The Silent Majority

Bridging quality and accessibility.

Archive for the ‘mystery’ Category

Hawaiian Dick vol 1 – Byrd of Paradise

leave a comment »

Hawaiian Dick vol 1 – Byrd of Paradise
Writer – B. Clay Moore
Art – Stephen Griffin

Hawaiian Dick is a detective story following the titular Byrd, a disgraced former police forced from the mainland due to a violent incident, who takes up residence in Hawaii to – one assumes – drink himself to death. Instead Byrd ends up working as a private investigator for police detective and war-buddy Mo. Alongside them is compatriot and cocktail Waitress Kahami, a dame with a heart of steel and an eye for Byrd, looking for her runaway sister and a cast of characters to make the island both dangerous and colourful. And so we’re put alongside our Hawaiian Dick, who alongside Mo, has the odds stacked against him with time running out.

As the outsider, Byrd is witness to the unexplainable phenomenon of the Hawaiian culture gone supernatural, as witch-doctors and resurrected bodies roam the countryside, looking for revenge. But it’s not that kind of “magic” book. It’s not a supernatural mystery, it’s a ghost story. It’s not horror, it’s mysticism. Hawaiian Dick is chock full of the undead, floating monsters that hang in trees outside your window but it’s not mutants, or magic, or elves and orcs. It’s the supernatural kind of supernatural that Byrd can’t understand or explain with smoke and mirrors. It’s the local myths of the colonized scratching at the feet of the detective story playing overtop.

Far from a formulaic detective story, the characters are placed in a setting so unique that it changes the entire aesthetic and reading of the book. It’s a 50’s Noir tinted with a Hawaiian mythos. A campfire story with bullets, broads and the revenge of the undead body they found in a trunk.

The effect is an island surrounded by mystery, mob bosses and lackeys, bent cops interfering with the investigations of straight cops and relatively no place to go. When it comes down to it, how far can you run on an island as small as Hawaii? Especially from what you don’t understand?

– Timothy Legion

— Timothy Legion is not presently read, looked to or admired. He created a newspaper (pamphlet) at his University that is fondly remembered by six people. He has not won any awards or been considered for nominations. He is wrist-deep in the Third Year of his self-imposed GLORIOUS FIVE YEAR PLAN.

Written by thesilentmajoritysays

March 13, 2009 at 12:00 PM

Posted in crime, mystery, Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

Aetheric Mechanics

leave a comment »

Aetheric Mechanics

Sax Raker, the main character of Aetheric Mechanics, may seem familiar to you: He is London’s greatest detective, has a Doctor friend (Dr. Robert Watcham), and is a consummate asshole. No, it’s not Sherlock Holmes. At least not just Sherlock Holmes. Sax Raker is equal parts Holmes, Sexton Blake, Solar Pons, and every other fictional London detective that are cheap rip-offs of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic creation.

You’re asking, why do I want read a graphic novella about an amalgamation of Holmes and lesser creations? Because it’s written by Warren Ellis, and it’s bloody brilliant. Moreover, said amalgamation is partly what the story is about, but you would never predict how.

Warren Ellis is known for his approach to big concepts and mind-melting science fiction, and Aetheric Mechanics is no different. It is set in an alternate London, when steam technology gave Britons airships powered by reactionless drives and the fear of invasion from Ruritania grew stronger by the day; Dr. Robert Watcham returns home to London from the war, amidst social hysteria, and visits his good friend Sax Raker, who has just been commissioned for some detective work.

The MacGuffin: A dead body. What does it mean? Oh so many things.

A genre-bending tale of detective fiction, Aetheric Mechanics builds to a stunning, and wholly original conclusion. Ellis’ London is a city on the edge of science, where the relationship between faith and reason is greatly segregated. The art by Gianluca Pagliarani delivers the story cleanly, and with great elegance.

Aetheric Mechanics is 50 pages of wonderful comics. Also, it retails for $6.99. The fact that the book is dirt cheap is not the selling point, however, the content is.

I would have gladly payed quadruple for the Aetheric Mechanics. It’s just that wonderful.

– Alex Lyons

— Alex Lyons studied English and History at the University of Guelph, where he acquired keen insights into late Victorian history, and its literature. This education, of course, serves no purpose here. Alex still lives in Guelph, and thinks of Jack the Ripper often.

Written by thesilentmajoritysays

March 9, 2009 at 12:00 PM

Desolation Jones

leave a comment »

DESOLATION JONES

Philip K. Dick infamously wrote letters to the spy agencies that he assumed were keeping tabs on him detailing the illegal activities of his friends, which he taped to the underside of his trash can left on the road because that was the most obvious place that they would look. For years, Dick had these one-way conversations with fictitious investigative agencies, including the intelligence community in his life everyday, fictitiously surrounding himself with spies and spooks from all over the world.

Enter Warren Ellis, realizing Dick’s nightmare of an intelligence community in Los Angeles, creating a sub-community of exiled spies forced to live in L.A. or be executed on their own native soil. So DESOLATION JONES’ world sits in a Los Angeles chock full of former FBI, Mi-6, CIA, KGB and uglier things, all forced to live and maintain day jobs, scattered across LA’s grotesque underbelly.

Michael Jones, neither accomplished agent nor good detective, is former MI6 who got drunk and shamed the organization. In retribution, they donated his body to science, giving him the Desolation treatment – a psychological experiment that kept Jones awake for a year and left him branded a biological hazard – and then sent him to die in L.A.. In exile, Jones is a social and emotional cripple, working as a Private Investigator who only takes spook community jobs, making sure he’s only even in contact with the community. The reason? He hates the community for what was done to him and they’re the only ones he can take it out on. His instincts are so harsh and warped that he has to convince himself to NOT kill.

So when he comes into jobs to search for the personal pornographic film shot by and starring Adolf Hitler, Jones a warped and demented forced of nature unleashed into the job, a poisonous outsider to L.A. and a tired killer to the community that supports him.

To bring the Desolation world to life is the inimitable J.H. Williams III, whose stunning colours, composition, angles and page layouts make DESOLATION JONES aesthetically vibrant. The story flows from reality to drug-induced hallucination to ultra-violence with masterful dexterity. His page layouts shift dramatically to keep the reader interested and guessing with widescreen presentation and monochrome, fluid fight sequences that’ll take out your eye.

For Philip K. Dick the “Empire Never Ended,” which reflects DESOLATION JONES’ reality. The Empire of Spies and Spooks doesn’t end, they just had to get day jobs. And for Jones, there’s no redemption. They broke, burned and scratched their markings into his arms. Unable to even drink himself to death, Jones has nothing but to work until he can’t even keep that together anymore. To die or to live and die in L.A.

– Timothy Legion

— Timothy Legion is not presently read, looked to or admired. He created a newspaper (pamphlet) at his University that is fondly remembered by six people. He has not won any awards or been considered for nominations. He is wrist-deep in the Third Year of his self-imposed GLORIOUS FIVE YEAR PLAN.

Written by thesilentmajoritysays

March 5, 2009 at 12:00 PM

Rear Window

leave a comment »

Rear Window

Hitchcock films get a bad reputation in many “modern” circles. His work often ignored as the iconic imagery has been replayed so often in satires and homages that the plot seems familiar, as though we’ve already seen it. Or the films are challenged as being formulaic or un-adventurous by today’s standards. But Hitchcock built the formulas and the iconic imagery never gives away the film. So as many times as it feels like you’ve seen Rear Window, it plays fresh, drawing you in wordlessly as you spy on L.B. before you begin spying on the neighbours.

REAR WINDOW is a film about paranoia and the morbid curiosity that strings out of boredom, where the slightest bits of evidence become the grandest accusations. L.B. Jefferies (James Stewart), an action photographer in his last week recuperating with a broken leg in a cast, is confined to his wheelchair, his only hobby watching the neighbours between visits from girlfriend Lisa Freemont (Grace Kelly) and his sassy nurse. As the hot summer days roll on, L.B. notices the absence of a salesman’s bed-ridden wife and suspicious behaviour from the salesman. Taking a closer look, his paranoia grows: The salesman, he concludes, murdered his wife and has disappeared her body.

With a stationary set, like L.B. you never leave the room, looking out the window with him and listening to every minute detail of his paranoid fantasy. In the beginning you have your doubts. Soon, it doesn’t matter if he’s right or wrong – something’s gone wrong in that apartment. For every piece of evidence to contradict the theory, the idea festers and becomes more suggestive. The question of “Did he kill his wife?” becomes “How did he do it?” and “How can L.B. prove it?”

So the paranoia festers as L.B. involves an old detective friend who is more than happy to find a reasonable explanation for the events and sweep them comfortably out of L.B.’s mind. But L.B. won’t let go, bringing Lisa and his Nurse into his peeping, all three of them sitting in the dark looking across the way with binoculars and a large lenses camera.

When paranoia crests, Lisa and the Nurse jump into action for evidence of misdeeds, running through leads and distracting the salesman which only sees them taken away and you left alone with L.B. in that room. Your gamble shown in the light and the last person that you want to see you’ve been playing can see you quite clearly.

And when it comes to retribution the effect is monstrously menacing. It feels unstoppable. Your fear is palatable. Your legs broken as L.B.’s. Your guilt as obvious. You looked with him. And you believed everything he said. As hopelessness and vengeance grip you, you don’t know if it was all for naught.

Did he do it? How do you know he did?

How do you know he didn’t?

– Timothy Legion

Timothy Legion is not presently read, looked to or admired. He created a newspaper (pamphlet) at his University that is fondly remembered by six people. He has not won any awards or been considered for nominations. He is wrist-deep in the Third Year of his self-imposed GLORIOUS FIVE YEAR PLAN.

Written by thesilentmajoritysays

February 18, 2009 at 12:01 PM

Posted in mystery, thriller

Omega: The Unknown

leave a comment »

Omega: The Unknown

Omega: the Unknown follows a mute superhero from another world, who shares an uncertain bond with a boy-genius raised by robo-parents, chased by a growing army of robots led by a giant hand with legs.

Omega: The Unknown is comics on the edge of madness. It is pure imagination bursting from every panel, brimming from every page. Throwing convention out the window, novelist Jonathan Lethem and artist Farel Dalrymple have crafted a story so unique it challenges the other books on the shelf.

Describing Omega: The Unknown for the uninitiated is no easy feat, for the book defies the status quo, and strives for a higher standard of superhero fiction. The book attempts to refine our notion of the superhero, peering at it through a new, more sophisticated lens.Never mind the pseudo-realism of contemporary comics, Omega: The Unknown is a book in love with its subject matter, reconciling its genre’s inherent silliness, yet striving to take it in new directions.

It is pop-art, unabashedly; Kirby-esque concepts and imagination made into colorful pages, detailing philosophical concepts and social awareness. It is a parabolic meditation on the dangers of mass consumption and consumer society. It is without reservation, regard, and repression.

As a reader, I don’t enjoy being spoon-fed. Thankfully, Omega: The Unknown ignores that in favour of ambiguity. There are layers upon layers of ideas in its storytelling, and it is up to the reader to decide what it all means. There are extended sequences whereby the reader is meant to be confused and disillusioned, hopelessly following the action for a glimmer of purpose. Rest assured it all makes sense in the end, but not without complete devotion to the narrative. Moreover, it is impossible to digest everything this book has to offer in one read-through.

Like the best fiction, you don’t merely skim its pages and toss it aside. You take your time: read and re-read. Even then, you aren’t guaranteed a complete understanding of the text. Lethem and Dalrymple are not interested in convenient, straightforward storytelling. Rather, they are interested in comics as art, ambiguous and meaningful.

Omega: The Unknown is intelligent comics devoid of sanity but not deprived of purpose in its inspired lunacy.

– Alex Lyons

Alex Lyons studied English and History at the University of Guelph, where he acquired keen insights into late Victorian history, and its literature. This education, of course, serves no purpose here. Alex still lives in Guelph, and thinks of Jack the Ripper often.

Written by thesilentmajoritysays

February 16, 2009 at 12:01 PM

Planetary vol 1 – All Over the World and Other Stories

leave a comment »

PLANETARY Vol 1 – All Over the World and Other Stories

Written – Warren Ellis
Art – John Cassaday
Colours – Laura Depuy

Planetary is one of the best structured concepts that has graced contemporary comics.

The story kicks off as The Planetary Organization, a team of “Archaeologists of the Impossible” recruit Elijah Snow, a man of cold-temperament and abilities, as head investigator of unexplainable phenomena drawing back through one hundred plus years of manufactured super-hero history.

The actual layout of Planetary is as unique as the premise. Each chapter tells a stand-alone story, putting the team into a different genre and setting. From Pulp Adventures to Japanese Monsters, each chapter is a uniquely designed and presented case study of the Impossible events of history, warped by the super powered principles of the Wildstorm Universe. Concepts and ideas not limited by genre or age – new and old – have the dirt wiped off them and are inspected closely to create a wholly new feel of things. A new, vibrant atmosphere for a new age of information.

With the book’s origin in the pulps, the reader is lead deeper and deeper into the mysteries of the book. Elijah Snow joins the Planetary Organization without any knowledge of the Fourth Man or his/her intentions or any modus operandi to Planetary. So as we travel around the world, from Hong Kong to contested Japanese islands to the very edge of the multiverse, Planetary threads the mysteries of the book – What is the purpose of the Planetary Organization?

Also included in this volume is the introduction of the Four, the antithesis to the Planetary organization. Four adventures mutated by a trip in a stolen rocket ship – their intelligence secret, their abilities overpowering and their purpose a secret. As the Four become the backbone of PLANETARY’s purposes, building a story that crests into the high concept competition that Planetary, like all pulps, is drawn to.

Planetary is not just smart comics; it’s unique, original and rolls with more than a hundred years of created history that plays off all the genres, each with unique pay-offs and highlighting their unique substances with a uniquely styled cover.

Let it be said, far and wide, than when Warren Ellis is good, he’s the best. And when he’s got a talent like John Cassaday working with him, the results are incomparable.

Planetary is one of those books. One of the unsung, true giants of the medium. Impossible to transfer, unnecessary to try. Each story is the juiciest fruit or oldest whiskey, each from a different side of the world with its own taste and colour you’ve never glimpsed before. Planetary really, really is that good.

– – Timothy Legion

Timothy Legion is not presently read, looked to or admired. He created a newspaper (pamphlet) at his University that is fondly remembered by six people. He has not won any awards or been considered for nominations. He is wrist-deep in the Third Year of his self-imposed GLORIOUS FIVE YEAR PLAN.

Written by thesilentmajoritysays

February 11, 2009 at 12:01 PM

House of Games

leave a comment »

House of Games

House of Games takes the viewer by the hand and whisks them along into the sordid world of con men. Written by Pulitzer Prize winner David Mamet, as well as his directorial debut, House of Games remains a successful crime drama for its devilish wit, charm, and themes.

Linda Crouse plays Margaret Ford, a psychologist and author who specializes in compulsion. Early in the film, Ford finds herself mixed up in a short con, headed by the ever charming Mike, played by Joe Mantegna. Upon foiling the con, proving herself to be the wiser, and realizing that Mike and his fellow con compatriots are fairly nice gentlemen, Ford expresses interest in conducting a social experiment: She wishes to hang around her new criminal pals, in hopes of examining a con in relation to compulsion. Mike, being a nice guy, agrees. That’s the set-up. From here, the audience through Ford, is exposed to the underworld of con men and deception.

What is truly fascinating about House of Games is how damn clever the script is. The film, without empty twists and turns, remains one-step ahead of its audience without alienating the audience. It is often tempting for filmmakers to placate to audiences, giving them too much information, assuming the audience’s incompetence. House of Games avoids that. Much like the confidence game, the film gives you its confidence, and you are expected to give it yours. When you think you know where House of Games is headed, it takes a corner, leaving you in the mud. And that’s okay.

To Mamet, language is a weapon. More than guns or knives, the characters in House of Games engage in verbal games of chess, where words carry the swift deadliness of a blade. When words begin to tumble out: pay attention. That’s the poetry. The film’s use of language gives it great depth, and distinguishes it from more straightforward contributions to the genre.

House of Games is a difficult film to discuss, because one word too many will spoil the narrative for first-time viewers. It is best served fresh, so the less said, the better. What should be noted is that House of Games is not regular crime fare. There are poignant themes which dance beneath the surface. Although the world of the con is the setting for the film, it is not strictly about con men or the cons. It is an examination of language, compulsion, and deceit. Clever and inventive, House of Games is one of the finest, most intelligent crime films ever conceived.

Give it your confidence.

– – Alex Lyons

Alex Lyons studied English and History at the University of Guelph, where he acquired keen insights into late Victorian history and its literature. This education, of course, serves no purpose here. Alex still lives in Guelph, and thinks of Jack the Ripper often.

Written by thesilentmajoritysays

February 3, 2009 at 12:01 PM

Posted in crime, mystery, thriller