Written by Matz, Walter Hill | Art by Jef | Published by Titan Comics
Who doesn’t like a little bit of noir and violent crime in their reading material? Certainly not me. Comics in the 1930′s in part sprang out of those old crime and noir pulps, so the genre has been tied to the comic book since the beginning. Throw in some Walter Hill, something of a master writer and director in the film industry, and you have a pretty appealing package that does what Titan Comics do best, offers something a little different to the mainstream. Titan have partnered with Hard Case Crime, a book imprint bringing sexy back with regards to hard boiled crime fiction. I’m reviewing the first two issues together, as I often find books like this work their best when read in collections, or in decent ‘chunks’.
Triggerman opens in 1932 Arizona, with a gorgeous establishing shot that immediately gives the book a cinematic quality. This is Prohibition and Depression era America, full of desperate people willing to do desperate things to survive. In fact, the first 20 odd pages reads exactly like a Hollywood period movie, with every panel placement exactly like a camera shot. We meet Roy Nash, the ‘triggerman’ of the title, sent out to Arizona to do a job for the Mob. That he does, with extreme prejudice, and ends up with a, ahem, free and easy wannabee actress lady friend tagging along after witnessing the hit. Rose Malone. A more perfect moll name would be hard to find.
Having established Roy’s tough guy credentials, we go back 2 weeks to find him banged up in Joliet Prison, Illinois. Again, there is mention of Roy’s lady friend, someone he has been separated from in some way, and clearly something that will take centre stage later. Roy is sprung from prison by being put into a coffin, after the corrupt prison guards have ‘killed’ him, so he in effect no longer exists. A great first issue, that lays groundwork, establishes some of the story while leaving a few mysteries in place, and brings this world to life.
The second issue picked right up where the first left off, with Nick’s coffin delivered to a Mob safehouse. He is most definitely ‘dead’, and is now Roy Parker, not ‘Machine Gun’ Roy Nash. Roy’s been sprung for a revenge job. Seems the Mob were double crossed over a lucrative heist, and they want the three perpetrators taken out. One, Blondie Egan, was the guy we saw taken out at the beginning of issue 1. So why Roy? Turns out that photo he’s been pining over belongs to Lena Dorsey, and she is with one of the guys. The Mob figure this extra incentive makes Roy their guy. Plus he can keep any of the money. Roy is given a chauffeur, The Panama Kid ( a former boxer), a car, and he’s all set.
Roy pitches up in Los Angeles, where he gets Rose a job before trying to track down Babe Fulton, Joe Start, and more importantly Lena. They are lying low, though someone called Eddie Marz becomes a person of interest, so he becomes the next port of call, on his boat The Shamrock. Before then, we witness why trying to shake down Roy is never a very good idea, as a corrupt former cop finds out to his cost. Eddie seemed cagey but keen not to upset the Chicago Mob and points Roy in the direction of The Kokomo Club to find Lena, and promises to keep an eye out for the hiding guys Roy is after. Roy makes some headway at the Club, before getting arrested by some corrupts cops, seemingly on his way to jail.
These first two issues just ooze crime noir. Full of lively characters, corruption everywhere, crime rampant, people down on their luck or living the high life on illegal booze, this is a perfectly drawn canvas. The dialogue is authentic and plentiful, drawing you into this seedy and dark world. The art is superb throughout, very cinematic in style and with a great attention to period detail, be it cars, clothes, or buildings. And those covers are just sublime.
A near perfect slice of crime, action, and drama, Triggerman should be on everyone’s reading list.
Triggerman #1 and #2 are out now from Titan Comics.