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Graphic Novel Review: The Chill by Jason Starr and Mick Bertilorenzi

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Jason Starr is a good crime writer who is capable of sinking completely into the noir mindset. I’ve enjoyed his books while at the same time being appalled by them. There just aren’t any dark places that Starr is afraid to go. And he drags his readers right along with him through the worst of it.

I thought the pairing of Starr and Vertigo Comics’ new crime line would be a natural, and overall it was pretty good. The only thing that jarred me at the outset was the heavy use of the supernatural throughout the story. Starr handled the ghoulies and weirdness just fine, but the tale just wasn’t what I was expecting.

I wanted more of the tough guy/con that Starr has written about in the past. I wanted the crime spectacle of hard men in hard places. That’s kind of here, but the supernatural serial killer angle comes at the story hard and fast and has about as much chance of stopping as an out-of-control freight train.

To its credit, the graphic novel rolls along like a greasy-handed monkey on a slippery vine. Although I was captivated by the voyeuristic approach in the prologue, and equally put off by the sudden turn into the Twilight Zone, I couldn’t stop turning the pages. Starr and illustrator Mick Bertilorenzi keep the pacing near frantic and the art can be eye-popping at times with all the camera angles and action. The New York landscape is beautifully rendered and captured in the panels.

I enjoyed the characters for the most part. Martin Cleary was someone I could root for, and Detective Pavano jumped off the pages immediately. The snappy dialogue is a treat for the ear, if a bit rough at times. The chase was well done overall, and the story certainly lends itself to a creepy atmosphere and violence. This is definitely not a graphic novel for the children’s shelves at the library.

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