Friday, April 4, 2008

The Fanatical Review - Femme Noir: The Dark City Diaries

Femme Noir: The Dark City Diaries #1 (of 4)

Writer: Christopher Mills
Penciler: Joe Staton
Inker: Horacio Ottolini
Colorist: Melissa Kaercher
Cover Artist: Joe Staton (Regular); Brian Bolland (Variant; shown above)
Publisher: Ape Entertainment

Book Synopsis: On the mean streets of Port Nocturne, justice is blonde. Join writer Christopher Mills and Eisner award-winning artist Joe Staton as they crack open the case files of crime fiction's most unusual sleuth in an attempt to unmask the mystery woman known only as… Femme Noir!

Review: It's a difficult task to make new crime/pulp comic books without coming off as dated or a rip-off of previous classic works. It's also hard to pull new readers in with a first issue of a new mini-series about a female protagonist. But the Femme Noir new mini-series from Ape Entertainment appears to have made the difficult seem easy.

This book is a quick read; but it is, by no means, an old recycled story. The story just pulls you in from the get-go with its rain and whiskey-soaked images and hard-boiled narrative. Mills pulls an interesting twist for the noir genre by using the male PI as more of a plot device to help advance the narrative forward from one scene to the next as a means to introduce each of the possible female suspects and their motivations behind possibly being the avenging vigilante. The dialogue and language used is pitch-perfect which only enhances the mood of the book.

Comic vet Staton bring his A game to this book. There is an Eisner-esque influence/vibe through out the book but there's no David Mack-like cut-and-paste job here. Yes, the three female leads are somewhat similar in looks and form and I think that it is intended. They aren't just the same figure with different hair colors and clothes. The city and backgrounds are solid and it actually seems to revel in its dark shadows. And my favorite scene is on page 6. When the assassin and his moniker are revealed, the book just reeks of classic 70's comics to me in a very good way.

Overall, Femme Noir: The Dark City Diaries #1 takes a relatively underutilized genre in comics and makes it a viable one. The action is fast and the women look even faster. And while the story concludes without the big reveal of the title character, it does whet the appetite for the next issue, which is what any good introductory issue should do.

For those of you who are into the alternative cover thing, be on the look out for variants by Matt Haley on Issue #2, Phil Hester on Issue #3, and Mike Weiringo on Issue #4. This issue was solicited in April Previews Catalog and can be pre-ordered through your local comic book store by using Diamond Code #APR083545.

More information on the whole Femme Noir series and its webstrip incarnation can be found at its website,

Sphere: Related Content