Written by Matz, Walter Hill | Art by Jef | Published by Titan Comics
So, just as with the films it is so clearly inspired by, we come to issue 5 and the closing act. Triggerman Roy Nash has been the classic anti-hero. He’s an average guy who just happens to be a hitman. Although technically a bad guy, the only people who get hurt around him are other bad guys who deserve it, and at least he does possess a moderate moral compass and sense of honour his fellow gangsters lack. The 1930′s were tough times, and Walter Hill and Matz have done a great job of both portraying those times and of creating such a great central character.
Last issue saw Roy and corrupt (but in a nice way, if that’s possible) cop partner Valentine finally find that $500 grand they had been looking for. Along the way Roy completed his contract by taking out the last two on his hit list, and also executed a double-crossing Mafia guy. A wise man would have taken his leave at this point, taken the money and disappeared. Not Roy. In true noir fashion, he’s not leaving without his girl, and doesn’t care who gets run over along the way. One visually fantastic barber shop slaying later, Roy has set up a meet with local bad guy Eddie Marz. A straightforward deal, Roy gives him half the money, Eddie returns his girl Lena back to him, they all walk away. Easy, right.
Of course not. The guy Roy trusted to set up the meet, Nick Canino, doesn’t show and Eddie shows up mob -handed intent on taking the money, killing Roy, and keeping the girl. We then get a magnificently choreographed shoot out in a saloon, evoking an old cowboy film. The good news is, Roy is the only one left standing at the end. The bad news, Lena was sat in the car Roy accidentally sprayed with bullet holes. Wouldn’t be a true film noir without a tragic outcome of course. Roy fulfilled his end of his promise, to come and save her, but luck wasn’t on their side. A very Shakespearean tragic love affair.
The epilogue is achingly sad. Valentine gets in touch with Rose, who Roy helped early in the series, who helps Roy to hide out to recover from his wound. Valentine and Rose hook up, and Roy gives them the bulk of the money to go off and start a new life. It was never about the money for Roy, always about the girl, she was the one thing that he justified everything for. With her gone, Roy can go two ways. One, sink into despair and just disappear, or two, head back to Chicago to make some more noise and ruffle some more feathers. He was set up after all. That, however, is a story for another day.
This final issue was beautifully written and drawn. Veering between very cinematic shout outs in such classic locales as a barber shop and a saloon, and deep emotional loss and the classic pyrrhic victory ending. The creative team really put everything into it this one last time. Everything you associate with gangster and noir films was in there, weaved in with perfect precision. The washed out golden colours also added to the gorgeous atmosphere, adding another layer to the proceedings. Walter Hill wrote up a great treatment, but Matz and Jef really put all the meat on the bones and make this the near masterpiece it is.
Hopefully this won’t be the last we see of Roy Nash, but if it is he couldn’t have done better than the telling of his story in these five issues.
Triggerman #5 is released by Titan Comics this Weds, February 8th.