Turf has certainly been a long time coming. Onto issue 4, from Jonathan Ross and Tommy Lee Edwards, this will at least give CLiNT something to run in their next issue.
We start with a song, juxtaposed with scenes of sex and death, we end with an attempt to turn the tide on the events in the series, and a cliffhanger into the finale. It's a beautifully brutal book, confusing in places, but rewards dedicated, concentrated reading.
The story continues to show a number of groups during the Chicago prohibition era in conflict against each other and themselves. The police have corrupt members teaming with the vampire gangsters, themselves divided over their intentions for the city. Then there are the non-vampire gangsters, also divided, and seeing how the presence of an alien is changing the balance of power in that respect. This has become a war of attrition, as one side ups their power base, so must the other, taken in comic book form to ludicrous supernatural and science fiction ideas.
And there is the reporter. Susie Randall, who seems to have a knack for causing events, being the catalyst upon which this book spins.
The book is excellent at delineating scenes, a good job too as the actions jumps all over Chicago. A hanghing tree to a hid-away spaceship, brown offices in chaos to blue light touched bedroom scenes, to bloody bright lit orgies. The narrator's voice helps to a constant guide to background, to scenes set off panel, but also happy to step away and let the pictures do all the talking at points. It's a wordy book but it's learning to delegate to the art.
And at its heart it's about territory, how people anthropomorphise where they live, and using vampires and aliens to exaggerate the theme. But have the cast behaving just like any and all people behave in a turf war, from Palestine to Ireland to my two girls squabbling over who gets the corner of the sofa, where no inch is given, as if their lives depend upon it. Here, of course, they do. And it's all leading up to the next issue, however late that will be, where the harvest will be reaped. Possibly literally.
Crossed: Psychopath #1 by David Lapham and Raulo Caceres also shows us human nature, but a far more twisted and specialised version, and in a very different context. In Turf the cast expand to survive, settling on one place and reinforcing their world. Here they move, always on the run, danger always on their heels. Settling is an unbelievable dream – until they are given a glimmer of hope.
We have seen mostly normal people changing to deal with the coming of the Crossed. Here we find an individual who doesn't have to change at all, a serial killer. And a story where his scenes are totally narrated from his perspective, judging, analysing , evaluating his new friends in both practical and sexual terms. The monsters we see below, fucking and killing a vulture before turning on each other are nothing compared to the practicalities planned and fantasised about by Harold. He's an unreliable narrator, but we know that, even if no one else does.
While Garth Ennis was adamant that the crimes of the Crossed would be no worse than any human is capable of, and has committed, there is always the get out clause, that this is how they are, there is no choice in the matter of how they behave, there is no way of redemption of self control for an infected individual. With Harold we meet something more chilling, someone behaving just as badly as an infected, but hiding it, pretending to be normal, yet full of the same plans. He's Crossed all but in name, a red mark spread across his soul rather than his face. And as the group put their hopes into his tales, his promises of salvation, his lack of physical mark gives a safe sense of security.
The art is incredibly heavy, spot and feathered blacks filling where they can. And perversion, whether actual or imagined, portrayed with the same sweaty, sick, art style that can revolt even when it isn't portraying something disgusting. Although there's not much room in Crossed for that…
Comics courtesy of Orbital Comics, London.