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Boston Blackie

Posted: Sunday, November 24, 2002
By: Ray Tate



Writer: Stephan Petrucha
Artist: Kirk Van Wormer
Publisher: Moonstone

Jack Boyle as the book mentions created Boston Blackie. A gentlemen thief, he starred in a series of novels, a radio series and a few movies. Now, he makes his splash into comic books. Does he sink or swim?

Stephan Petrucha puts a lot of thought into Boston Blackie. He could have veered drastically from the model because very likely few people have heard of this particular protagonist, but he instead sticks closely to the story of a too-smart criminal who has a streak of justice running deep inside him. Mary his wife is even given due respect.

The faux noir in which Blackie finds himself is neither simple nor staid. The book has an edge to it and does indeed make use of horrible crimes that would certainly find a place in the black and white world of despair. However, Blackie's presence alleviates the doom-felt atmosphere, and we're better for it in my opinion. Even when it seems like he may have committed a heinous act, the reader still finds optimism in him that keeps the pages turning.

The backdrop also bears the smoke stench of deception, greed and corruption. A very likeable, strong character we find later in a vicious, nasty position which is given a matter of fact, historical mood. The scenes are not meant to titillate but inform and deepen. That this character regains her strength toward the end once again defeats the abyss of the noir genre that usually devours heroes and anyone with a modicum of decency. Her ultimate fate still remains unknown.

The artwork by Kirk Van Wormer for the most part comports the characterization of the characters and conveys the mood of the era. There are a few gaffes regarding scale and proportion but nothing overall distracting. The shadows are usually well-placed and well-drawn, but sometimes they seem a little over-the-top especially when blotching faces.



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