The secret of Murder City

Over the past few years, many a comic book series has transitioned to the small screen with much success. From superhero-based shows like Arrow, The Flash and Daredevil to supernatural dramas such as Outcast and the record-breaking The Walking Dead, fans have been treated to a plethora of live action adaptations of their illustrated favorites. “There’s no better time to be a comic book fan,” as they say, and it seems the comics-to-TV trend isn’t dying away anytime soon.

Here’s another comic book series that many believe could be the next hit TV show.

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Nailbiter: The Murder Edition vol. 1

Written by Joshua Williamson and illustrated by Mike Henderson, Nailbiter is a crime/mystery comic that takes place in Buckaroo, Oregon, a (fictional) city which gave birth to 16 of the most notorious serial killers in the world. In this first volume, NSA Agent Nicholas Finch travels to the city to investigate the disappearance of his friend Charles Carrol, an FBI agent who went missing while investigating the cause of the town’s apparent penchant for producing psychotic murderers. It doesn’t take long for the hot-headed NSA agent to find trouble…

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…and for trouble to find him.

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Without any solid leads, Agent Finch reluctantly turns to the most notorious Buckaroo Butcher for help – Edward “Nailbiter” Warren – a serial killer whose M.O. involves kidnapping men and women who have a habit of chewing their fingernails, keeping them alive long enough until their fingernails grew back and chewing his victims’ fingers to the bone before killing them.

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I didn’t think something with such dark subject matter could be this much fun. A good gory comic is one that balances out its intense scenes with the other elements of the story, and the creators of Nailbiter play that game really well. There’s definitely a lot of action, as well as some heavy parts, but somehow the comic manages to throw in some humorous jabs from time to time.

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What I like most about this comic book series is that it has a lot of personality. Not only will you enjoy its dynamic characters but you’ll also get the feeling that the city has a life of its own. You’ll want to get to know the place as much as its people, except you can’t really do that. Not this early in the story anyway. So you just find yourself hooked on the mystery surrounding Buckaroo, Oregon.

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Overall, Nailbiter is a thrilling read that is sure to suck you in from the very first page. Great characters, great storytelling, and playfully sinister art all come together in this exciting murder mystery series. If I had to guess why people want to see this on television, only one thing comes to mind: they probably can’t get enough of it.

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Family affair

The genius behind Mind MGMT is back with an all new series that promises to be a murder mystery like no other. And this time, he isn’t working solo. Matt Kindt teams up with his wife Sharlene for a brand new series that takes its readers deep beneath the ocean’s surface.

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Dept. H follows the story of Mia, a special investigator, who travels to an underwater research facility to investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding her father’s death. As the cover of the first issue suggests, her father just happens to be the most brilliant man on the planet.

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The series has a lot going for it. Matt’s signature style of art is as good on this book as it is with his other works, while Sharlene’s colors provide exactly the right atmosphere for a deep-sea adventure.

Story-wise, the first issue does a great job laying the groundwork by introducing a diverse cast of characters; some already known to the protagonist, others just recent acquaintances – all capable of murder. It feels like a classic whodunit mixed with sci-fi and drama.

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The second issue explores Mia’s relationship with her brother, who isn’t exempt from suspicion.What I like about Matt’s writing is that his stories are always multidimensional. Expect that he will explore every possible angle, every potential side-story to give depth to his work.  I look forward to seeing how he fleshes out each character in the series.

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If you’re looking to read something out of the mystery genre, you might want to pick up this comic book while it’s only two issues in. With the Kindts in charge, you simply can’t go wrong.

 

Issue number three arrives on June 22.

Fatal attraction

This week, I’m rereading the first volume of the crime/mystery/horror series Fatale from the ultra-talented duo of writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips. It’s been over a year since I read it and I just recently got a hold of the second volume so a little refresher is in order.

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Fatale Deluxe Edition Volume One. Collects the first two story arcs Death Follows Me and The Devil’s Business.

The story revolves around Josephine, a woman with an obscure past riddled with very deadly secrets. She doesn’t age, and she has the apparent ability to charm men into doing whatever she wants – just some of the side effects of a curse placed on her decades ago. And of course, that kind of power comes with a lot of trouble. Dirty cops, occult worshipers, demons and pretty much every manner of shady individuals want a piece of her.

It’s quite hard to find a series where the level of art matches the level of storytelling – even more so when both are on an exceptional level. The story is multi-layered. You have so many things intersecting, so many plot threads coming together to weave a beautiful noir tapestry. That, in itself, is a treat. If this were prose, I’d still read it. But then you get art like THIS and everything feels perfect.

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Phillips’ illustrations fit the story extremely well. Most of the first story arc takes place in the 1950’s and you feel like you’re transported to that era when you read this book.

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The attention to detail is astounding; from the clothing, to the hairstyles to the cars and the scenery. It’s like reading one of those classic films where everyone looks so elegant – but with a dark, gritty twist.

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I don’t always reread previous volumes before getting into the next one, but this series deserves the attention. I’m actually enjoying it more the second time around and I’m seeing some details which I might have missed or forgotten. More than anything, I’m getting really pumped up for volume two, which should be another great read.

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Awesome cover art for the second volume. Collects the last three story arcs West of Hell, Pray for Rain and Curse the Demon.

Super spies and secret lies

I finally got to read the final volume of Mind MGMT, Matt Kindt’s masterwork and one of my favorite graphic novels. It’s always bittersweet when you reach the end of an amazing story – on one hand, you finally get to find out how it ends but at the same time, you don’t want it to end.

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I remember picking up volume one a couple of years ago in an effort to add some mystery books to my reading list. The first thing that caught my attention was the funky cover art. It looked different and that’s what I always go for; though it wasn’t an easy decision to get it. After some Googling I found out that the series was about spies and conspiracy theories and I felt like that type of story had already been told too many times. I worried that the book had nothing new to offer, but it proved otherwise.

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Mind MGMT isn’t just about spies. It’s about super spies who have insanely powerful mental abilities. There are those who have the power to make you do things through verbal suggestions, poems, music and art. Others can make you see things and confuse you by changing your surroundings and their own appearance. Some can live on indefinitely and heal from virtually any type of injury through sheer willpower. Some can erase your memories while others can see into the future. And then there are the really powerful ones who can do all of the above and more. Now, imagine two groups of super spies – one seeking to fix the world, the other trying to control it – using their abilities to take each other out.

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This graphic novel is riveting. It is fast-paced and has lots of action, as you would expect in any spy story. But what grips you is the way the story is told. It’s one of those stories that make you ask so many questions when you begin reading it. But the more you find out, the more you want to know. And on a day when you have nothing else to do, there’s just no way you’re putting this book down. You’ll just have to find a comfortable spot and accept that you’ll be there until you finish the volume.

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Similar to his earlier works, Kindt’s watercolors create beautiful dreamlike scenes that work brilliantly for telling this highly cerebral story. But the art isn’t the only thing that will keep your eyes busy.

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You’ll also find clues on page borders and hidden messages scattered throughout much of the series which eventually come together to expand the breadth of the story. There will be times when you have to go back to earlier pages to make sense of things, and you will have fun doing it. (Because who doesn’t enjoy playing detective every now and then?)

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Mind MGMT is one of those stories that you should read after you’ve had your cup of coffee. There are so many things going on in every page that you most definitely want to get into it with a fresh mind, lest you miss out on some of the more subtle details. Kindt’s execution is flawless. As you read, you get the sense that everything about the graphic novel is deliberate. The level of thought that went into this series is simply astounding. If you’re a fan of the spy game, definitely (and I mean DEFINITELY) pick this one up. There really isn’t anything like it.