An energetic low-life comedy of noir, Viktor Kalvachev’s Blue Estate (Image Comics) follows a large cast of schemers and patsies through a convoluted crime plot involving real estate scams, drugs and Russian mobsters. Though the twelve-issue comic mini-series opens on the narration of Roy Devine Jr., a clueless nerd of a would-be p.i. who we first think is going to be our window into this neon lit world, Roy quickly vanishes from most of the first four issues of the comic (collected in trade paperback as Blue Estate: Preserves.) Instead, we’re shown the sordid and bloody double-doings of a variety of hard-edged So Cal types.
Chief among there are Rachel Maddow, an alcoholic Hollywood wife whose direct-to-video action movie hubby Bruce appears to be involved in money laundering; her brother Billy, in the middle of a disastrous house flipping scheme for the ill-tempered mobster’s son Tony Luciano and Vadim Radow, Don Luciano’s Russian mobster rival (“The most dangerous Russian this side of Rasputin.”) fronting as a “legitimate” Hollywood producer. Also adding to the show are a cover-stealing fake-breasted pole dancer named Cherry Popz, a 12-stepping hitman and a hopped-up drug dealer who calls himself the King of the Jungle. That last has an unfortunate rendezvous with a meat grinder, though he isn’t the only minor character to meet a bloody demise in the first four issues. (Two nameless college jocks buy it after jumping the stage in Luciano’s club — strict rules in that joint!) Once we get a gander at the casually gory doings in Blue Estate, we can’t help wondering how the amiably ineffable Roy Jr. is gonna survive this mini-series.
Though its sprawling cast may initially throw some readers, Kalvachev’s story (co-written with Kosta Yanev and scripted by Andrew Osborne) and setting should prove plenty entertaining to those attuned to the violent excesses of moderne Pulp Fiction. Kalvachev’s art, abetted by a shop’s worth of additional artists, proves cacophonously expressive. Watching one pen style collide against another in adjacent panels, at times I found myself recollecting the acid-drenched storytelling of Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, though Kalvachev and Osborne don’t indulge in the heavy-handed theme pounding of Stone’s ultra-violent road trip movie. Morality tomorrow; dark comedy tonight. . .