Concrete Jungle #1 Review: A Harsh Comic With Attitude & Style

Concrete Jungle #1
7/10
Concrete Jungle #1 from Sheldon Allen delivers a harsh, unforgiving portrait of a corrupt cop in a gritty, sci-fi world.

Concrete Jungle by writer Sheldon Allen and artist Karl Mostert is out now from Scout Comics. You're not going to believe what happens in this issue, so let's dive right in.

Concrete Jungle #1 cover. Credit: Scout Comics
Concrete Jungle #1 cover. Credit: Scout Comics

If a writer sent me this comic to read before it came out, I think I'd have to warn them: "You might get crucified for this one." Concrete Jungle #1 is unapologetically harsh and absolutely not for everyone, but there's a certain bravery in the way it immediately lets you know what kind of comic it is. To say it's not what readers will expect is an understatement because there's nothing to compare it to. Yeah, it's got a bit of Tarantino flare and a bit of Grand Theft Auto in its gleeful grittiness, but check this… centered in a world of aliens and mutants living amongst humans, it's about an openly and proudly racist, white, female police officer who, while investigating the murder of a four-breasted sex worker (which, sidebar, might actually secretly be a terrorist attack), is paired with a telepathic, black, female police officer. It's a buddy cop comic where the characters are actively trying to make it not become a buddy cop comic. It's bold and loud and vulgar, with so many did-he-really-write-that-line-of-dialogue moments that it stops being shocking and starts to effectively paint an ugly picture of the ways that violence and hatred can hollow a person out. While this kind of story working depends entirely on how Allen sticks the ending, it has about as much potential to be good as it does to scare off half its readership with its harshness. And that potential? High.

It has to be said upfront; the cover art doesn't do Concrete Jungle #1 justice. The interiors by Karl Mostert are detailed and expressive, evoking Frank Quitely in many ways. The colors by Warnia Sahadewa are grainy and soft, creating the feeling that we're watching this on an old VHS tape. The lettering from Matt Bowers is well-done, and we get to see a rare use of thought bubbles in the opening sequence that, oddly, works for the story.

There's a lot of people who won't enjoy Concrete Jungle #1 because of its harshness, but it succeeds in what it sets out to do with style, attitude, and a unique voice.

About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.