Overview

Mr. Murder is Dead

Review

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Mr. Murder is Dead

Credits

  • Words: Victor Quinaz
  • Art: Brent Schoonover
  • Inks: Brent Schoonover
  • Colors: Mark Englert
  • Publisher: Archaia Comics
  • Price: $19.95
  • Release Date: Sep 7, 2011

A graphic novel that lovingly embraces and exploits every cliché of the pulp detective genre without ever degenerating into self-parody, this is a book that redefines retro homage on all levels.

Retired cop Gould Kane, a.k.a. The Spook, is drinking away his deteriorating final years burdened by the weight of both past glories and past regrets. When criminal mastermind Mr. Murder unexpectedly re-enters his life with a theatrical and very public demise, a shocking chain of events is set in motion. As the investigation into the death of his archnemesis progresses, Kane is sent on a twisting journey through the secrets of yesteryear that will involve both friends, former colleagues, and his infamous rogues gallery. In an attempt to find some measure of closure The Spook will find himself caught up in Mr. Murder’s greatest masterplan; one that seems orchestrated from beyond the grave…

Mr. Murder is Dead is a book that redefines retro homage on all levels; from story structure to visual recreation, all the way through to its physical presentation. It’s important to note from the outset that while this story attempts to lovingly embrace and exploit every cliché of the pulp detective genre it never degenerates into self-parody. This is a tale that seeks to celebrate that era of publishing not to send it up, with its landscape format successfully evoking the newspaper strip design it seeks to emulate.

Brent Schoonover’s art is an obvious labour of love throughout and, I suspect, is the product of much careful research. With writer Victor Quinaz’s script jumping backwards and forwards between the decades Schoonover gets ample opportunity to show how adept he is at reconstructing everything from 1930s-style Golden Age newspaper strips to those fondly remembered 1970s Hostess fruit pie advertisements.

What really adds to Mr. Murder is Dead’s retro effect, though, is its presentation as a tactile entity. The embossed cover, for example, has been given a distressed, stained look that makes it appear as though it’s an older, weathered tome that has lost its dustjacket. It’s this attention to detail that adds a whole new dimension to the reading experience and, dare I say it, ensures that enjoying Mr. Murder is Dead as a physical object gives an enhanced pleasure that a digital copy could never recreate.

Strikingly crafted, and thoughtfully fashioned in both tone and physicality, Mr. Murder is Dead is an unpredictable mystery yarn with a carefully interwoven narrative approach. An affectionate and inventive “whodunit” that makes a fine addition to the Archaia back catalogue.

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