Saturday, August 14, 2010


Written by Brian Michael Bendis and Marc Andreyko
Art by Brian Michael Bendis

I find it a little hard to believe that it's taken me this long to get around to reading Torso, Bendis and Andreyko's historic true crime novel and love letter to Prohibition-era Cleveland.

This is quite possibly the best Bendis comic I've ever read (it's definitely in my top three).  In this, Bendis and Andreyko tell the story of the Torso killer, a serial killer who terrorized Cleveland at the same time that Eliot Ness took control of the police force, looking to drive out corruption and booze.

The story has been meticulously researched (as evidenced by the newspaper articles included in the backmatter), and carefully constructed.  Bendis has always drawn from photos, and so the characters are very close approximations of what the actual police detectives assigned to the case looked like.  As well, there has been some real thought put into the personalities and characters of the principal people involved in this case.  This reads better than most true crime, because the writers decided to avoid lurid description of the mutilated bodies (the killer was called Torso for a reason - that's usually all that was found of the victims), leaving that to the illustrations.

As usual, Bendis has a strong ear for dialogue, although I got a little tired of some of the slang from the era.  If I have any complaint about this book, it's that it seriously needed a proof-reader.  I was frequently pulled out of the story as I tried to figure out which 'there' the authors intended to use.  That's a little shameful really - it's a collection; there would have been plenty of opportunity to fix mistakes.  This is a whole other rant though, so I'll leave it for now...

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