If you look up “Hardest Working Creator in Comics,” you’re likely to find a picture of Rich Tommaso. The guy has been steadily working for two decades, writing and drawing a variety of crime comics, including Clover Honey, celebrating its ten year anniversary, and running his own self-published imprint, Recoil Comics, where he has published numerous series of his own and has recently recruited creators like Sean Phillips and Eric Skillman. He’s also known for his coloring on the Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge archives put out by Fantagraphics, and has a history with providing English lettering for foreign translations–and yet to many the name might sound unfamiliar. That’s all about to change, as his new ongoing series, Dark Corridor, comes out from Image Comics on August 5th.
Issue #1 throws us right into the world of Red Circle, a town run by criminals and corrupt cops. Through several short intertwining vignettes, we get to see how various criminal parties interact and control things in Red Circle, but there’s something happening that they’re all not quite aware of: slowly but surely, the wrongdoers are being taken out by a gang of stylishly clad and mysterious female assassins.
At first glance, the most memorable thing about Dark Corridor is the art–Tommaso has an absolutely gorgeous style that is reminiscent of classic Daniel Clowes. It rides a fine line between indie cartooning and modern retro-ism, and it looks fantastic. Perhaps most visually striking is the color–it seems to pop out and really gives a lot of character to each scene.
Underneath that great art is a really fantastic story that is just getting started. My favorite thing about this first issue is the perspective and way the story is chopped up. Rather than give us a few pages with narration to introduce the world, we’re left to figure out the interrelationships and connections on our own, which lends itself to twisting our expectations–for one quick example, the story begins with a dog showing up at a man’s back door, covered in blood. At first, the man seems like a regular Joe who wants to find out what happened to this poor dog, but we soon learn that he’s not such a good guy after all. The fact that the story is told completely outside of the perspective of the red motorcycle riding vigilantes makes them all the more intriguing–and threatening–as we don’t quite know who we’ll be rooting for as the story grows.
Dark Corridor #1 gives us a story that's unique to what's currently on the shelf, even within the sub genre of crime comics. It rides a fascinating line between having a slightly weird indie vibe in the look and feel and the brutally realistic aftermath of the violence wrought by the characters. This rich world and these characters are almost over-the-top intriguing, and I'm as interested in each of their individual stories as I am the overall plot, which gives a feminist twist to the classic crime tale. This is definitely a first issue to check out, and I know I'll be adding it to my subscription right away!
Dark Corridor #1 hits comic store shelves on Wednesday, August 5th, and is published by Image Comics.