Review: Murder Most Mundane (Mad Robot Comics)

The latest book from Brighton’s Mad Robot Comics, home to Cadavers and Last Exit to Brighton, sees a tough as nails London detective investigate some grisly murders in a quaint country village. But will Murder Most Mundane manage to be more meaningful than it’s murders.

Publisher: Mad Robot Comics
Writer: Ash Deadman and Matt Hardy
Artist:Clark Bint, Edward Bentley (Colours) Rob Jones (Letters)
Price: £13.50 from Mad Robot’s Online Store

Murder Most Mundane is a dark British whodunnit that leans heavily on movies like Hot Fuzz or The Wicker Man for inspiration. DCI Rutherford is a maverick cop who is called to a quiet village in order to investigate a grisly murder, but ultimately has to confront the wall of silence that surrounds it and the more he looks into the motives, the more sinister things become. From the cake baking WI to the chief of police who just wants to protect the fair, Murder Most Mundane relies on classic British crime cliches to tell it’s story, from underground cider rings to mysterious goings on in the local church.

It’s all very familiar fare, with recognisable character tropes throughout, from the grizzled Rutherford to his wide-eyed protege. While it may feel a bit too familiar in the opening pages, the story eventually develops beyond the obvious comparisons thanks to an underlying sense of mystery, and has a final resolution that takes the story off in a very different direction from where you might expect (think The Worlds End rather than Hot Fuzz) which makes for a really enjoyable read as a result.

Although the story has it’s dark moments, and is not for all ages, it avoids being too turgid thanks to a vein of dark humour running throughout, which makes it very readable. Writers Ash Deadman and Matt Hardy revel in the absurdity of some of the situations they put Rutherford in (especially the WI meeting, told via a sequence of double page spreads) as well as in the gruesomeness of the deaths. This means that, because the whole thing hasn’t been played completely straight (or descended totally into parody) when the bigger moments come you are invested and not taken out of the story when things get a bit odd.

This dark humour is aided by some fantastic artwork from Clark Bint (our first time seeing his work). From the opening panels which see a particularly gruesome hanging, it makes the most of some of the more outlandish moments, but also makes the most of the quiet police procedure scenes too. Bint has a very unique mix of styles, reminding us of everything from classic David Lloyd through to Bart Sears’ work in the very early Violator mini series from Image (mainly in the gore), and also Andy Bloor (especially with its intricate line work and cross hatching, as well as it love of black tones). Although there are some dips in the consistency with the quieter pages, it has such a strong feel and unique style that you forgive it. And the final few pages feature some truly spectacular design and redeem any minor quibbles!

With Murder Most Mundane, Mad Robot continue to produce really interesting books that balance a quintessential Englishness alongside the slickness of a US indie book. This is another strong outing from the team and will definitely appeal to fans of the Cornetto Trilogy, but also anyone after a dark and stylish murder mystery with a twist!