The secret to writing a great genre comic is to get the perfect balance of familiar tropes and something unique to make for a compelling read. The latest creator to try and get that balance just write is David Taylor with 70-s infused crime noir revenge thriller Her Prosperity. Will this be a book worthy of hunting down?
Publisher: David Taylor
Writer: David Taylor
Artist: David Taylor
Price: £4 from David Taylor’s Web Store
At it’s core Her Prosperity is your classic revenge thriller in the reign of Death Wish or Taken, however Taylor adds a nice angle to the whole thing by gender flipping the story and having a female lead. However he does this without it ever making it feel like tokenism. The titular ‘Her’ is a classic enigmatic investigator who sets out to find a missing girl. She heads to the sleazy town of Prosperity where ‘rich me go to relax from the pressures of their privilege’ – which is a great description – and sets her on a course with the local [mostly male] establishment as she attempt to shake up the status quo of this sexist backwater.
The story builds slowly but surely, drip feeding us information about the case, while also moving the action on where necessary. ‘Her’ is an enigmatic heroine, and we don’t ever learn that much about her, however her actions speak loudly enough to give us detail on her. She is clever and calculating, but also impulsive and prone to getting herself in trouble. She is a great lead, who is tough where necessary but also has a tender and caring side as she attempts to rescue the women held captive in Prosperity. This gives the story a much needed conscience and allows plenty of gender based antagonism based around a confident woman attempting to break into a dominant male world. However, she is much more than a woman cast in a man’s role, as her voice and actions feel very well rounded, and consistent. She is clever and calculating where needed, but also flawed and impulsive.
On first impressions Her! Is quite a basic book, as it doesn’t do anything too fancy or too clever, but it is a better book for this. There are no grandstanding moments of reinvention, or overly clever reveals of twists. The turns are simple but handled really well, and sometimes you need a book to adhere to those conventions and follow the rules of the game. The use of a constantly running first person narrative gives the whole thing a Philip Marlowe pulp private eye vibe, and brings it’s own tropes and cliches along with it, and the whole definitely feels like a pulp novel with all the positives and negatives that come along with that.
Visually, Her is also very straight forward, but it works for this kind of comic. The covers use a strong hit of red to contrast nicely with the black and white imagery. Then inside Taylor’s artwork has a quite classic ‘indie’ feel to it, with as nice mix of clean line work and strong shadows. Some of the faces and compositions are a bit loose and ragged in places, but it has a strong sense of the kind of book it wants to be and manages to achieve that throughout. While the private eye stuff makes it feel quite pulpy, there is also a hint of 70s grind house in there as well, and while it lacks an obvious visual comparison, which sounds like a negative, at the same time that also means it doesn’t suffer from being too derivative of other books – it is very much it’s own creation.
If you love crime comics like Criminal or Dying Is Easy, then this is a fantastic read. It’s strengths are in it’s uncomplicated nature which makes it a very readable book. With potential for continuing the story in other towns (it reminded us a bit of Jack Reacher in the way Her could be a nomadic hero) we hope that Taylor returns to this winning formula in the future as it feels like a character and concept with plenty of miles left in the tank!