Fresh from their success earlier this year with superhero comic the Ether, writing machine Matt Garvey reteams with artist extraordinaire Dizevez for White Noir, a hard boiled crime story set around a town with a harsh winter backdrop. However, can this comic give it’s creative team yet another clean getaway?
Publisher: Lab Rat Comics
Writer: Matt Garvey
Price: £3 from Matt Garvey’s Big Cartel Store
White Noir begins in the aftermath of a car crash on the highway, as a mysterious man comes to to find he has been forced off road after hitting a deer. However, things get a lot more interesting as this injured driver staggers towards the nearby town of Essex Peak and entering the local bar before passing out. With little to go on regarding who this guy is, apart from an obviously fake ID, bar owner Skip calls in the town’s Doctor and Sheriff to patch him up and find out what’s going on. But as the case begins to roll, more questions keep coming up about who has come to this sleepy little town.
Matt Garvey has created a deeply moody, really immersive story which feels like it was ripped straight from a TV crime thriller. The plot is intriguing from the start and the title has a real Fargo mixed with A Simple Plan vibe going for it, not least due to the snow laden background. White Noir also has a real air of mystery to it’s whole story, especially with it’s characters, and in particular the driver, given his entry to the others lives. Of course the rest of the cast, while maybe not as important, are equally compelling, with their interactions with each other, especially between Skip and the Sheriff, feeling very three dimensional. There is little wrong with this story, which ends as strongly as it begins with a flashback which shows how we got to this story while also hinting how it may progress. (It also doesn’t hurt to include an easter egg references to Garvey and Dizevez’s other title.)
Speaking of Dizevez, bringing this talented artist on board once again raises the bar considerably with art which is fantastic to the nth degree and is a joy to look at from cover to cover. The art style throughout much of the book has a very gritty, almost 70’s movie look to it, something enhanced by the dark colours used for the bar interior. In fact much about the art is unsettlingly good, not only helping imbue a very unnerving image of small town America but also giving its occupants an equally creepy feel, best personified in the Sheriff’s introduction. However, the dark tones are only half the story as Dizevez offers just as much skill in the more snow-laden scenes. This offers a nice contrast into the story, while also helping to get a sense of character motivation; with the majority of the cast in darkness possibly having shadier motives while Skip’s daughter is properly introduced in the lighter bedroom, hinting that she might be more innocent than the rest. The issue ends with an extreme divergence to the rest of the issue, as the flashback scene is offered in black and white. That said, this is in no way a bad thing as the monochrome is crisp and clean and gives the title a more 1940’s gangster feel, interjected on occasion with effective flashes of red to denote anger and rage. This itself is capped off beautifully as the final page bleeds from monochrome to colour, helping to transition us from past to present. In short, this is the kind of artwork which deserves as much praise as it can get.
White Noir is, in a word, fantastic. Both Garvey and Dizevez are at the top of their respective games with this title and have produced a visually stunning, utterly enthralling story which could, quite possibly be their magnum opus. This first issue is a gripping read right until the end and the only thing criminal about it is that we have to wait for what happens next.