Maybe its because comic book fans today are largely overstimulated by a million and one tweets and status updates and the newest vape juice that there’s hardly any room anymore for the simple and the straightforward. Whether that’s necessary or whether it’s an example of the continued drive of human endeavour is up for debate, but in the case of Moonshine from acclaimed writer Brian Azzarello, different flavours deftly combine to create a delicious concoction.
Elements of film noire, countryside horror and depression-era Americana come front and centre in the new book to largely beautiful and compelling effect. Azzarello shows off his storytelling chops, combining with Eduardo Risso’s artistic contributions in a story that fits perfectly in the stable of offerings from Image Comics. Like me, most fans will immediately be taken by the highly stylised cover of issue 1, with the suave and polish of a 1920s gangster suit. It’s hard to not stop and take notice of the classy combination of red, white and black, a colour combination fans have seen most memorably from the popular work of Frank Miller (who actually put together the variant cover.) Inside the book, the colour palette widens considerably, acting as a worthy parallel to the unfolding drama.
Moonshine delivers what one would easily expect from a story that’s set in 1929 America, with the criminal activities of prohibition bootleggers taking centre stage. The cover and opening panels do well to present readers with something familiar, with feds in pursuit of criminals in the American wilderness in a time when masculinity basically meant being sexist. But soon enough we find out that there’s more to this story than just armed agents in suits and hats. Was I the only one who heard the voice of Ray Liotta’s Henry Hill from Goodfellas narrating Lou Pirlo’s asides? This gave the comic a great vibe, and if you considered yourself a fan of Boardwalk Empire, you’ll probably find more than one thing to raise your glass to.
While the narration and story-telling were clearly the stars of the show, they had stellar support with the artistic talents of the aforementioned Risso. The story’s differing moods and situations were conveyed in emphatic style, adding dramatic tension to several scenes, including scenes without dialogue and all-important establishing shots. The final panel count and arrangement couldn’t be bettered, and the book’s colours help keep readers grounded within scenes. Still, it was easy for the mind to wander and wonder about the connections between the townsfolk, the creepy inbred-looking mechanic kid and whether there’s a lycan aspect to the story, what with the reference to the moon in the title and the action in the opening scenes.
While the award for most original comic book title might not actually go to Azzarello for this book, we can console ourselves with the Bard’s words about a rose. This begs the question : – how long should a comic book name really be? Does less equal more? Won’t generation Tinder just abbreviate it anyway? There’s the possibility that it’s the grown-ups that make all the businessy and editorial comic-book decisions and that these merciless overlords have veto power over all and decide that they know exactly what the public want. It is what it is I guess, or IIWII, I mean #IIWII, in post-millennial speak. In any case, Moonshine’s debut issue makes me want to order another round, and maybe ask around how I can procure some more for my private stash.
Writer – Brian Azzarello
Artist – Eduardo Risso