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The Hat Squad

Posted: Sunday, December 15, 2002
By: Ray Tate



Writers: Jay Faerber
Artists: Eric Yonge
Publisher: Moonstone

The Hat Squad comes out of debatable history to the comic books courtesy of Jay Faerber, Eric Yonge and the good people of Moonstone. As you may have discerned from the opening sentence, the Hat Squad actually existed. They were a group of LAPD homicide detectives operating in the fifties who wore fedoras, stuck together and believed firmly that the rights of criminals could be dealt with through the delicate persuasion of broken bones and split lips. They're the kind of police officers, who though honest to a fault, Elliot Ness--though no choirboy himself-- may have arrested out of principle.

Mr. Faerber finds a new home for the Hats in comic books. A very slight romanticization sees our heroes mowing through the type of sleazy fifties gangsters immortalized in such movies as Chinatown. The members of the Hat Squad incidentally were the stars of mediocre film Mullholland Falls as well as a short-lived television series.

The Hat Squad work better here in the comic books than those other media since a lot of their methods, which would find any officer today under the scrutiny of Internal Affairs, mirror the vigilante tactics of Batman and the pre-Crisis Batman Family. While Faerber does not change their methods, he still finds a means to show growth in their gruff characterization while they investigate a gruesome murder tainting Hollywoodland. Don't expect however epiphanies. The Hats are happy go lucky bruisers for the forces of good, but they're also smarter than they appear and a little more feeling than they show to the public they are sworn to protect.

Riding with Mr. Faerber's fairplay mystery and hardboiled dialogue is the astonishing Eric Yonge. Moonstone is really attracting some accomplished talent. Mr. Yonge's black and white artwork bears an old-school attention to detail and anatomy. Each panel is a feast, and a sumptuous one at that, for the eyes.



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