Between the Panels: Graphic Murder By Lance Victor Eaton (April 2007)
Whether a story is triggered by a murder (Hamlet) or is centered on murder (MacBeth), taking a life dominates much of literature and most fictional entertainment. Comic books certainly follow the fashion, regardless of genre.
Murder - or rather the attempted murder of Jane Vasko - sets in motion the events that bring us Painkiller Jane, a vigilante detective who scours the streets fighting crime. After being caught while an undercover cop, Jane was transformed by her tormentors into Painkiller Jane. With the ability to heal quickly and a well-honed collection of fighting skills, Jane may find herself in tough binds but she fights her way out. While her intent is not to kill, she does end up with a moderate body count by the end of this volume, with only more to follow.
Recently greenlighted for a television series on the Sci-Fi Channel, Painkiller Jane (by Jimmy Palmiotti and Joe Quesada) packs a lot of action, excitement, and humor. The art executes high-octane energy throughout the stories. More interestingly, Jane isn't portrayed as the usual scantily clad femme fatale, flawlessly perfect with a bountiful bosom. Instead, she's often covered in bandages for her healing wounds.
Death literally comes to Dillinger in a western horror tale that evokes elements of The Devil and Daniel Webster. On a brooding white mare, Death trots into the small frontier town of Dillinger, which the locals know can only mean one thing: somebody is going to die. When Paxton hears that Death has returned, he fears deeply for his sickly daughter Sarah and heads to the saloon to confront the skeletal character. He makes a wager with Death to save his daughter, but can such a wager be won?
Brief but compelling, Death Comes to Dillinger (by James Patrick, Sezenhedo and JM Ringuet) delivers a haunting story whose dark and gritty art reinforces its moody depths. Like any good comic western, the panels are tinted a dull yellow throughout, emphasizing the dreary life of the Western frontier. The art itself is grainy and sketchy rather than displaying definitive bodies. This graphic novel includes a bonus feature of deleted scenes that were taken out of the series in its comic book form.
The Night Driver (by John Cork, Christopher Mills, and Chrisopher Lagasse) leaves a trail of murder along interstate highways. When Cheryl Jones becomes concerned about the whereaboouts of her travelling salesman husband Hurdis, she enlists the help of Detective Granger. The latter isn't entirely convinced her husband is in danger. But when a string of sadistic murders follow Hurdis along his route, Granger slowly pieces together the puzzle.
The story's dark and sober mood filters into the art. On the whole, it is not graphic or morbid, but a few panels will certainly stir some unrest in readers. The hues of each panel also reflect the mood. Additionally, the art is drawn in such a way that it reminds one of charcoal drawings.
Obviously, there are innumerable other titles that could be considered to reflect graphic murder. As a culture, we are intrigued with murder. Whether it's to do with fear, obsession or paranoia, it makes us think about our own mortality.
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