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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Give The Private Eye A Try

Posted by on Wed, Mar 20, 2013 at 4:27 PM


Last night, I bought and downloaded a copy of The Private Eye, the first issue of a proposed ten-issue monthly sci-fi comic series by Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin. They're selling the comic from their own site, Panel Syndicate, on a pay-what-you-want basis. (If you're curious, I paid $3.) I'm not generally fond of writing full reviews of the first issues of serial stories—I don't review books based on their first chapters, after all—but I like what I see here.

The Private Eye is a science-fiction story set in a future where the internet vomited up everyone's secrets and then died. I've enjoyed all of Vaughan's ongoing comic series so far, more or less—Y the Last Man is a solid Vertigo title and Saga is maybe my favorite ongoing series right now, but Ex Machina lost my attention about halfway through and I haven't cared to see how it ends—and Private Eye thankfully falls more on the big-ideas side of the spectrum of his work. The protagonist is a private eye, but the title also evokes themes of privacy and the public eye. The standard noir conventions are laid out in this issue, including the down-and-out detective with a substance abuse problem (though his drug of choice is legalized marijuana cigarettes, not booze) and the dame with the difficult case and the opening chase sequence. The problem with serialized storytelling is that you don't get a full picture in a single chapter. You have to trust the storyteller. As far as I'm concerned, Vaughan has earned that trust with his previous works—there are any number of ways this story could go, and every path from here looks pretty interesting.

Marcos Martin is one of the best genre comics artists working today. He's one of the few artists to draw more from Steve Ditko's example than Jack Kirby, and his work feels kinetic in a highly cinematic way. The opening chase scene makes the most of the book's sideways, landscape layout, a thrilling parkour adventure that sets the futuristic tone with ease and style. His work is so dense, with billboard advertisements layered over other billboard advertisements layered over a futuristic cityscape teeming with human beings of distinct shapes and sizes. You feel like you could fall into these panels and then keep falling forever.

If you like sci-fi, or adventure comics, or noir, this could be just the thing for you. If you're really not sure about whether you'd like it, go ahead and download the book for free to give it a try. If you like it, maybe pay twice as much for the next issue. Like Zander and Kevin Cannon's very good Double Barrel two-man anthology comic, you get to download The Private Eye as a file rather than "stream" it on someone else's app. (This is important; if you buy comics you can't download, those comics can disappear without warning.) It's not just in content that The Private Eye feels like the future—its delivery system feels plenty futuristic, too.


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bleedingheartlibertarian 1
Very cool. I will definitely be checking this out.

And yeah, Saga is fantastic.
Posted by bleedingheartlibertarian on March 20, 2013 at 4:56 PM · Report this

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