By: Miguel Acedo
Mr. Murder is Dead is a mature murder mystery title that pays homage to Golden Age comic strips as it follows once-ace cop, Gould Kane. Now in his twilight, Kane struggles with the changing world around him and comes to see that the spark of justice doesn’t shine as bright as it once did.
So what happens when Kane’s arch nemesis, Mr. Murder, mysteriously ends up dead and conventional wisdom says Kane is the perp? In this soon-to-be classic “who done it?” tale, writer Victor Quinaz and artist Brent Schoonover weave a crime yarn that honors the traditions of Noir and the pulps, by paying tribute to classical archetypes. Quinaz and Schoonover assemble an original cast of characters, each with their own distinct motivations and complexities. In the world of Noir where the line between good and bad is often blurred, and shades of grey loom large, Mr. Murder is Dead is a book unafraid to be colorful.
Quinaz, as writer and creator, has a very distinct vision. His writing has cinematic sensibilities which are exploited by Schoonover’s uncanny gift of illustration. Schoonover displays strong visual storytelling and not one single image is a throw away. He excels in capturing the moment and displaying action at the same time.
Part of what makes Mr. Murder is Dead an entertaining and engrossing read is its interesting story structure. It jumps back and forth between the past and present. Although most stories utilize flashbacks as a story convention often weaken a story or just confuse the audience, Mr. Murder is Dead jumps through time for a purpose and that purpose is not just to be cool. Although, after you read this book, you will think it’s pretty cool how we follow the cast of characters, specifically Gould Kane as the Spook in 1930’s and 1950’s newspaper strips and then come back to present with the ability to compare how good Kane once was as opposed to how not-so-good he has become.
I would be remiss to not mention the individual contributions of colorist Mark Englert and letterer Deron Bennett. Englert’s colors are rich, deep and evocative, but where he really shines is coloring the newspaper strips. By mimicking different paper stocks and paper aging, Englert gives us a real sense of the passage of time. Similarly, Bennett changed his lettering and ballooning style to fit each era and is a major reason why this book was so easy and enjoyable to read.
Mr. Murder is Dead holds the distinction of dually being the prettiest and grittiest book you will read. If you have never picked up an Archaia book, make this one your first. The quality and craftsmanship makes this book stand out on any shelf.
So what happens when once good men go bad? Read Mr. Murder is Dead and find out.