"The Black Monday Murders" #1 from Image Comics -
For hundreds of years, the human financial landscape has been dominated by eastern and western schools of economics...Schools with very old ties to the supernatural. Some men of these schools have become very powerful captains of the banking system, made almost untouchable by deals with an ancient being, one that gives them all they could ever desire as long as the financial system is stewarded well and remains in balance. However, when the system fails, as it has several times in the recent past - from 1907's market panic, to 1929's Wall Street Crash, to 2007's market crash - these powerful men, must pay the cost in human blood...And not all of it is their own. In the greatest banking merger in history, east meets west in the Caina-Kankrin merger, creating the largest investment bank in all of the world. When the managing partner, Daniel Rothschild, is found horribly murdered, disgraced ace detective, Theodore Dumas, comes off the bench to solve the case. But there is more to Dumas than meets the eye - he is brilliant, but he also has ties with the world of occult magic, ties which help him to see what others cannot. However, Dumas is in way over his head. He is dealing with power, corruption, and aggressive greed on a nearly unimaginable scale, all backed by an old god that is insatiable, and possibly, unstoppable.
Arguably, the best writer in comics today, Jonathan Hickman, returns with this intricately written, supernatural thriller and crime noire, "The Black Monday Murders." AND IT IS FIRE! Hickman puts on a clinic in world-building here, masterfully weaving a fictional narrative inside of actual history, creating a timeline that mirrors our own, yet is terribly askew...Or is it? This story sets up the banking system as what many already believe it to be: an evil global cartel run by very powerful men, backed by very old money; however, Hickman's twist is that the cartel is undergirded by a powerful entity bound to these men by a sinister deal struck long ago. And the deal is not without sacrifice; however, those who sacrifice the most are not those reap the most benefits...Which some would say is the case in reality. The world that Hickman builds is dark and oppressive - thank goodness that Tomm Coker is up to the task, laying down pencils as brilliantly oppressive and eerie as Hickman's story. Coker's angles, use of shadow, and weary, expressive faces really convey the burden that the people who live in this world seem to bear - a world where there is no god who cares about them at all. The only one who cares is the reader; I was so captivated by this story, the characters and the world that Hickman built, I knew halfway into the book that I needed to be in on this ride all the way to the bitter end. And I don't foresee the end being anything but bitter.
If you're looking for a light, airy, mindless read, "The Black Monday Murders" IS NOT what you are looking for. It is painstakingly detailed with charts, prose biographies of characters, and short historical-fiction pieces that weave gorgeously into the storyline. This comic begs to be read slowly, carefully, and possibly two, or three, times. I predict that this comic will be a sleeper hit.
RATING: An enthusiastic, unmitigated 10 out of 10. "The Black Monday Murders" is the best, most challenging comic that I have read all year.
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