Written by, Cullen Bunn
Illustrated by, Jonas Scharf
Colors by, Alex Guimaraes
Letters by, Ed Dukeshire
The issue begins with a flashback sequence that shows Grace and Andre Winters at their wedding day while a monologue recites words at Wade, their son’s, funeral. The first issue in this story began shortly after the death of Andre due to his involvement in organized crime and conflict he had with the Cartel. The Winter’s family business involved the movement of Ash, which was a valuable commodity that changed the people who used it. When Andre died, the Cartel thought it provided an opening for them to take possession of the Ash. However, Grace and the family organization she now led, proved to be a formidable opponent, both maintaining possession of the Ash and killing Rafael, the Cartel leader’s son in the process. However, the Cartel has not forgotten Grace’s actions and plans to retaliate in due time.
The most entertaining part of this crime noir story set in Louisiana is the substance called “Ash.” Its mysterious impact on those who use it is both positive and negative. For example, it raised Leon Winters from the dead in a previous issue, but the effects wear off and he evaporates in this issue. The characters are an intriguing part of the story, as well. Grace is courageous and perseveres as the leader while her sons remain loyal to the family business. Grace’s motivation seems to be connected to preserving their possession of Ash and the monetary benefits it provides. And finally, The Cartel is lethal and have a long-term plan, as evidenced by the response of the leader when asked how she will respond to Rafael’s death: be patient and wait.
The art reinforces the somber tone of the book through the use of dark, thick lines and shadows. The author uses mirroring, religious themes with the mystical usefulness of Ash, to create a feeling of spiritual influences. For example, a minister reminds the audience that believers can look forward to a new life in heaven after death, and, this is mirrored by the fact that Ash brought a character back to life. In addition, the presence of religious messaging creates a contradiction that is also brought to light by the possession of Ash: Wade is in a better place, in heaven, now that he passed. And, he would not have passed if it weren’t for the family monetizing their possession of Ash. The fact that these themes are on display during a funeral makes the story come to life and gives it meaning.
Overall = 8.5/10
Crime noir stories are prevalent in comics and other media making it difficult to distinguish stories from each other. Cullen Bunn develops a uniqueness to his story by including elements of fantasy and horror in this tale involving a family-run criminal organization. I highly recommend this book to fans of Cullen Bunn and crime-noir stories.