Written by Matz, Walter Hill | Art by Jef | Published by Titan Comics
The first two issues of this book have been extremely cinematic in design, from the source material that inspired the story, to the way the panels are used as camera shots, to the overall tone and style of the writing and art. The 1930′s have been captured perfectly, groaning under the weight of organised crime, Prohibition, police brutality, corruption through all levels and society, and the deepening depression driving millions into poverty and petty crime. A wonderful canvas then to work with, and one that Walter Hill and Matz have taken full advantage of.
Triggerman is the story of ‘Machine Gun’ Roy Nash, a hit man for the Mob. Roy had been banged up in prison until he was broken out for a special job, to avenge a double cross on the Mob. The added wrinkle is that, as well as the three targets Roy has been given, the lady who was with them is Lena Dorsey, his old flame. She’s now hooked up with Eddie Marz, a shady club owner who’s not been completely truthful with Roy. After a stint in the local pokey (love the lingo) Roy is bailed by his Mob employers, though reminded to focus on his targets, Babe Fulton and Joe Start, and not Lena. He agrees….for about two minutes, before he heads off to track her down again.
Roy finds where Lena has been staying, but finds out from her roommate that Lena has essentially been kidnapped. We also learn a little more back story, that Roy and Lena were an item until he went to prison, she fell into drugs and things went South badly. Roy finally catches up with Lena, with Eddie Marz, at a boxing match. Roy lets Eddie know what he’s about, let Lena leave with him and he’ll cut him in on the reward for the hits, or Roy will make it his mission to bring down Eddie and his operation. True to his word, Roy messes up an operation of Eddie’s that night, learning Eddie has put out a shoot on sight order on him.
Getting back to his hotel, Roy finds Detective Valentine waiting, the seemingly only honest cop in the city. He’s worked out what’s going on, why Roy is in town, and as it’s only bad people doing bad things to other bad people, he wants in. He wants to partner up with Roy, to supply another gun and a good source of information, in return for a cut of the reward when it’s all done. Roy’s none too keen, as he hates both cops and partners, but Valentine plays his trump card. He’s got a lead on one of Roy’s targets. Roy welcomes him aboard, and you just know things are going to start to escalate rapidly.
While not as pedal to the metal exciting as the first two issues, this was still a very solid story. It felt like that slower, quieter episode you get in the middle of a TV show season, where you catch your breath a little before the mayhem ensues. That’s not to say significant things didn’t happen, they did. Roy caught up with Lena, made a new friend in Valentine, a dangerous enemy in Eddie Marz, and got note from his Mob employers they were a little uneasy with the attention he was getting. It was all delivered with fantastic gusto, noir dialogue just dripping off the page, moody and well drawn pages drawing you in to this seedy underbelly of the city. The clever use of colour tones also gave this a classic, 1930′s feel.
A slower issue yes, but just as good in establishing how real this world and these characters are. As good as any prose crime fiction out there.
Triggerman #3 is out now from Titan Comics