Two-Step is a light little story about a Zen gangster and a woman who gets paid to walk around London and look at interesting things (with all her cameras she wears). It’s a really colourful book, collecting a three issue miniseries (and the script to the first issue, which is an interesting document in how little there is to it, making comics-writing look super easy).
It’s a science-fiction kind of story, with a bunch of banter and a stolen giant penis and an enforcer who fucks cars because they’re so sexy. It feels closest to NEXTWAVE as far as Ellis’ other work. Fun. Fluffy. I liked reading it but am glad I didn’t buy it.
Jew Gangster is about a kid in depression-era New York who becomes a gangster as a way of climbing out of poverty. It’s a pretty classic story with all the proud disapproving father, friends who hang on for a taste of money, and moving away from the family the gangster was trying to help elements that feel like they’re in every gangster story.
It does all the elements well, but there isn’t anything groundbreaking in here. Religion only really came into play when the protagonist couldn’t sit shiva for his father, which seemed like a missed opportunity, given the title. The black and white art is good and it feels more of its time than something like Sandman Mystery Theatre. But if you like gangster fiction there’s not much here you haven’t seen before.
Batman and the Monster Men is Matt Wagner’s story of a young Batman and his first case with Doctor Strange. It’s kind of a follow-up to Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One, and Batman is still kind of figuring out his role. It’s a similar kind of story arc to the Christopher Nolan Batman movies. He has a girlfriend and has been fighting Sal Maroni’s gangsters, not full on supervillains, but Dr. Strange is doing genetic experimentation and creating huge troll-like creatures to deal with the loan sharks he’s been borrowing from.
It’s a decent book, and you can tell it’s by the same guy writing Sandman Mystery Theatre. Very noirish, but the art in this is much better. It’s probably a bit more pulp than noir (especially with that title) but a good Batman story that doesn’t shake anything up too terribly.
What I liked best about Gomorrah was its lack of explanation. There are five or so storylines and while some of them are obviously about gangsters waving guns around, there’s also one about a tailor whose factory makes haute couture dresses. It’s not immediately obvious how it connects to the rest of everything, but it draws you along. There’s a young boy who is getting initiated into one of the gangs, and the gangsters are talking about being at war. The movie doesn’t explain who they are at war with. When a bagman tries to go over to the other side, the gangsters all look the same. They don’t even try to differentiate the clans or gangs or whatever. The movie doesn’t tell you where it’s taking place, apart from somewhere they speak Italian. Oh wait, two characters specifically go to Venice at one point, but that’s the exception. You have to travel to get somewhere with a name. Maybe if I spoke Italian I could recognize the main town as being in Sicily or wherever, but nothing is named. It’s just a stew of violence. But in a good, bleak, film.