01st Oct2018

‘Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer #4′ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Max Allan Collins | Art by Marcelo Salaza, Marcio Freire | Published by Titan Comics

Mike-Hammer-4-Cover-B

This has been something of a romp, albeit a noir romp, and has been very enjoyable because of that. No high brow entertainment here, Collins has gone for crowd pleasing guns, fights, dames, and sex. Can’t really go wrong with that I guess. I’ve been a little torn between enjoying the delights spread out before me each month, and wishing for that little bit extra to distinguish this from the crowd, to add a little cherry on top of a decent dessert. This series of course was never meant to reinvent the wheel, just showcase Mike Hammer and to an extent Mickey Spillane, and that it does extremely well.

So, where were we? Mike has got caught up with client Helen Venn, on the run from gangster boss Carmen Rich who thinks she has $10 million of his money. Helen denies all this, but is she on the level? Hmmm. Mike’s secretary Velda then disappears, kidnapped by Rich’s men, but Mike makes a deal with Carmen’s number 2, agreeing to kill Carmen in exchange for Velda’s whereabouts. Mike rescues Velda, though she doesn’t do a bad job herself, and race back to the hotel where Helen is being kept to find she is now gone. Someone in all this is playing everyone off against each other it seems.

Mike gets a call from Buddy, looking to cash in that ‘kill Carmen for me’ token, along with information on where Helen may be. Mike makes his way to Carmen’s club, and comes face to face with him. Only Mike believes Carmen when he says he wasn’t behind any of this, especially when Carmen reveals that Buddy and Helen Venn used to be an item. Seems Buddy and Helen have been trying to play Mike off against Carmen, and have them either take each other out, or have one bump off the other and then they would finish off the last man standing. ah, what a tangled web we weave. Still, now that both Carmen and Mike know this, they can team up and find Buddy, right?

Er, no. Buddy has been lurking behind the curtains, in true sneaky villain style, and shoots Carmen dead. He offers to let Mike walk away, but Mike’s not having that. Buddy ends up shot himself, not by Mike but double crossed himself by the double-crosser. Helen, it seems, as the classic femme fatale, has double crossed everyone, even shooting Buddy in such a way to make it look as though Mike shot him. Mike is unconsciousness, having been slugged on the head by Helen. Love the dialogue in this scene from Collins, with Buddy gasping ‘You are a whore’ to Helen’s reply ‘Who just turned a $10 million trick’. Look in the dictionary under ‘crime noir dialogue’ and you’ll find that line. Nicely done.

Helen’s thought this all out well. She shoots Hammer twice in the front, to make it looked like him and Buddy took each other well, dresses a girl she murdered in her clothes, and sets fire to the club. Mike barely makes it out alive, but dies in hospital. Seriously. The end. Ok, not really the end, but he does clinically die before being brought back to life. Recovery takes six months, but revenge is a dish best served cold, right. Let’s just say Mike and Helen are reunited, and the book ends in the most noir fashion ever, with a perfect single line of dialogue. Classic.

This was a great wrap up to a good story. No filler here, all the twists and turns were played out, all the clues made sense, and the story was brimming with classic noir scenes and dialogue. Max Allan Collins writes this like a Mike Hammer greatest hits it’s so iconic. The retro, clean and classic lines of Salaza and Freire on the art complete the moody scene, really adding a classic timeless feel to proceedings.

A fantastic issue, and series, with Collins making an iconic cult hero shine again brighter than ever. Mickey Spillane himself couldn’t have done it better.

***** 5/5

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