Summary: From the co-creators of Gotham Central and FATALE comes a lost crime noir masterpiece. Long out of print, and presented here for the first time in an oversized hardback edition, SCENE OF THE CRIME was the first time ED BRUBAKER and MICHAEL LARK worked together – before their acclaimed runs on Daredevil and Gotham Central – and it was inked by SEAN PHILLIPS, who also designed this deluxe edition. This is where it all began, with a hard-hitting mystery story, a modern day “Chinatown” that garnered nominations for Best Miniseries and Best Writer in the 2000 Eisner Awards. Also included in this new collection are behind the scenes art and stories, a new foreword by BRUBAKER, and many other extras. This is the book you’ll want on your shelves.
Scene of the Crime, by Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark and Sean Philips 8.0
Ed Brubaker delivers the goods again with ‘Scene of the Crime’, one of his earliest efforts. A four-part mini-series, it’s a detective story following the exploits of Jack Harriman, a former delinquent now trying to make a living as a private detective. His office is located above his uncle’s Scene of the Crime boutique, which features his own legendary work as a crime photographer.
At the start of our book , Jack receives a visit from a police officer, one he has an uncomfortable history with, telling him that he’ll be sending him a client. This client, the cop’s girlfriend, is looking for her sister, now missing for four weeks. Jack will end up bumping into violent cult members, pot pushers, a former colleague, his ex-partner, his ex-girlfriend… and murder.
Brubaker has spun an excellent mystery, complete with enough clues to partially guess the outcome (ex: “…with a loaded pistol”), but not enough to give away his whole game. I found the delivery pitch-perfect because it allowed me to participate in the investigation in a way, but left me guessing and, thus, had me barreling through the book to see if I was right or not. Which I was… in part.
He also did a terrific job of fleshing out his characters – his lead as well as the secondary characters. At no time did I get the impression that they were empty shells, and somehow got the gist of who they were even though they weren’t each explored to the fullest degree. Jack’s observations helped, obviously, but Brubaker also dropped subtle hints throughout.
He was ably assisted by Michael Lark’s art, which is not especially detailed or visually impressive, but has a gritty edge to it that is perfectly suited to the material. Although he has numerous fans, I can’t see how his style would work in another context. But I would like to explore it a bit. Strangely, I found his pencils best in mid-sized pieces, with the smallest art lacking definition.
Anyway, all this to say that ‘Scene of the Crime’ is an excellent detective comic. It doesn’t outdo Parker or Blacksad, but it’s right up there with the sharper ones. It’s extremely well put together, and it’s fresh enough to give this aged genre an ounce of life. Unfortunately, what would have been a series of stories got sacked after this first one, so there’s little chance of an encore, but Brubaker’s work endures in other scenes.