Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Near Death Vol. 1

Written by Jay Faerber
Art by Simone Guglielmini

I've been enjoying Jay Faerber's Point of Impact, and remembered liking the Near Death story back in Image's Free Comic Book Day offering this year, so I thought I'd check out the first trade of Near Death, his recently cancelled Image series.

It's a shame that the book isn't running anymore, because this is a very good crime comic.  It's about Markham, a hired killer who, in the first chapter, has a near-death experience.  While dead, he sees the multitudes of people he's killed in his life, and decides that he needs to restore the balance of life and death.  He figures that, in order to protect himself, he needs to save one person for every person that he's killed.

Most of the chapters in this trade (which collects the first five issues of the series) are self-contained, and each shows a new 'case' for Markham.  First he rescues his intended target at the time of his 'death' from another killer.  Later he protects a police detective who is about to turn in some corrupt colleagues.  In another story, he tries to help a convicted sex offender, although the creativity with which he approaches that problem is emblematic of his new desire to really put the world to rights.

Markham is an interesting character, but not at first.  His moment of revelation comes a little too quickly to be believable, but as the series progresses, and someone who we saw as a heartless sociopath feels the sting of his only friend's words, and later the guilt for causing her injury, we start to see that there is something to this character, and he becomes someone you want to keep reading about.

Faerber shows growth as a writer over these five issues, and makes me curious to read more about Markham.  Simone Guglielmini's art reminds me a great deal of Sean Phillips's, which is high praise indeed.  This book has a bit of a Criminalfeel to it (Phillips's masterpiece crime comic, written by Ed Brubaker), although it operates at a much quicker pace.

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