Written by Chip Zdarsky
Art by Jacob Phillips
The squeamish amongst you might want to skip the first page of this issue because it’s a wee bit gory, but serial killings generally are messy affairs whichever way you cut it. Someone is knocking off the various members of the crime families seemingly with no pattern. It’s a real puzzler for Newburn to tackle this issue and it brings home to Emily just how dangerous this world she’s found herself in really is. Still she’s in now and there’s no going back.
We see the two different aspects to Newburn here, the kind that deals with the cops and the kind that deals with the crime families. It’s a delicate balance to walk. Emily recognises this. She herself isn’t that important. The snarl on the face of Casey, the officer who liaises with Newburn this issue says it all. You can see the contempt on her facial expression. That really helps inform the tone of their interactions.
To the police Emily is pretty much a nobody, just a civilian that Newburn has picked up as an assistant. It’s Newburn they have the history with, who used to be one of them. That earns him a lot of credibility. Emily remains the outsider, offering a different POV. Her journal entries remain interesting ways to get the exposition across. Things like the concept of Black Castle would seem a bit odd being explained in speech but as a journal entry it works a lot better.
The crime this issue is pretty simple – who is killing the henchmen of the various crime families? Simple and yet complicated due to the world it’s based in. It’s interesting that the colour palette of this issue involved a lot of blues. All except for the scene in the Black Castle, the fortress is neutral ground for the crime gangs to get together. There’s a a warm colour palette there, one that makes those scenes seem more real, more full of life in a way. It’s really interesting to have that contrast.
The use of the blue seems to give a whole sense of tone to the issue. This is a crime that Newburn struggle with a bit. There’s a lot on the line because the families all want him to solve it and any one of them could take him out and end his career permanently. He needs to find answers for pretty much an entire criminal underworld. Luckily it’s Emily who scores the breakthrough and she proves herself very useful and adept.
There’s some really nice bits of art this issue, I really like the design of the Black Castle, a giant old style mansion that evokes older times whilst still looking like it wouldn’t entirely be out of place in the modern city. As already noted the facial expressions are excellent, the maniacal look on the killer evokes a real horror feel as well. There’s also a nice use of shadow with one panel just a silhouette of a figure and car that’s very effective when you think of the need to be sneaky. And the gore is as already mentioned brutal. It feels horrific.
You certainly feel the danger in the world. The colour palette also shows how harsh it is. Emily is now deep in this world, she’s been to places other civilians wouldn’t even look at. She has proved her usefulness but she’s also a nobody in this world and is reliant on Newburn. Ultimately what happens when Newburn does fail, if he fails, where does that leave her?
For me this issue wasn’t about the crime as much as the relationships and characters which made it a really rather strong issue for me from that point of view. Emily is deep in this world now and the question remains – what will her fate be?