COMIC BOOK REVIEW: NIXON’S PALS / AUTHOR: JOE CASEY / ARTIST: CHRIS BURNHAM / PUBLISHER: IMAGE COMICS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Imagine a comic that combines Marvel’s X-Men with Roman Polanski’s Chinatown; a disturbing and deviously dangerous blend of malevolent mutants and noirish gloom. Imagine that many of the mutants are making a living on the wrong side of the law and you are their parole officer. Imagined it? If you have then you already have one foot in the world of Nixon’s Pals, Image Comics’ graphic novel from Joe Casey and Chris Burnham, co-creators of Officer Downe.
Nixon Cooper is having a bad night. One of his parolees has gone missing, his wife is having an affair, and to make matters worse he is having the weirdest dreams. To top it all, he is just about managing to walk the fine line between the law and criminality, but tonight he might be about to waiver.
This novel is a stylish journey through the underworld of an alternate reality Los Angeles that switches effortlessly between genres; at times flirting with sci-fi references and the superhero model, at others rocketing headlong into out-and-out detective parlance. This heady, sleazy cocktail of influences perfectly compliment a cast of reprobates including wannabe super-criminals, juiced-up heroes, and hookers with talking breasts. The whole piece is darkly lit, feeling almost grimy to the touch as you turn the page, drawing you reluctantly into Nixon’s night from hell, starting literally with a bang and refusing to let up until the finale.
If a criticism was to be found it is that at times the story feels a little too neat and familiar. Much of what Casey and Burnham have included can be found in similar fiction, whether that be comic book or other, and as a result there is little to surprise the reader. That said this is a beautifully designed novel that will benefit any collection.
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