While I’m not a die hard film noir fan, I’ve seen my fair share of flicks that feature the duped detective, devious damsels, and dire dilemmas that usually end with someone dying. Whether it is Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, Dave Bannion, or Jeff Markam, the tales never have a happy ending where the hero rides off into the sunset with the girl.  Oni Press’ You Have Killed Me is no different, and for those who are unfamiliar with the genre, it’s a perfect primer for pulp plotting.

YHKMCOVER.jpgYou Have Killed Me
Jamie S. Rich
Joelle Jones

In “You Have Killed Me”, Jamie S. Rich takes the reader back to the 1930s at the height of the detective tales of old, by introducing detective Antonio Mercer and a woman from his past who needs his help.  Her sister, and former love interest of Mercer, has gone missing just days before she is to wed.  What starts out as a locked door mystery turns into a sordid tale of the missing Julie, her gambling debts, and those she may or may not have been involved with.  Along the way, readers learn more about Mercer’s past and his connection to the family, and more importantly, how Julie’s twin sister Jennie fits into the mystery.

Rich is able to pull all the detective tropes out of the bag and throw them on the page for the reader to digest.  At times it works perfectly – especially the ending where Mercer discovers the final clue and makes his grand reveal, but there are times where he totally throws the reader by introducing one too many characters and expecting the reader to keep everything in check.  For a 192-page story it can be a lot to take in in a single reading.  Those that intend to read “You Have Killed Me” from beginning to end in one sitting, might want to pause and reread passages to keep everything clear in your mind.

I do like Rich’s writing. He has a great grasp of giving the reader just enough information without giving everything away.  When it comes to revealing important clues from Mercer’s past and how his continued love for Julie lands him in trouble, it makes for a page turning story as you try and guess what will happen next.  The story is nothing new, but it is engaging, and I found myself reading it multiple times over two days.

When I read comics, I generally do not pay attention to who wrote or did the art in any book until well after I’ve read the issue.  After being taken in with Joelle Jones’ art in “You Have Killed Me”, further investigation into her previous works was a bit of a surprise as some of her recent works include the recently released Noir, and other books from Dark Horse Comics.  I love her style, and it mostly works for me.

The one area that causes some concern is in the way Joelle Jones depicts the central character.  At times her shading makes it look like Mercer has a bit of chin scruff in one panel, and then looks clean shaven in the other.  Throughout the volume, there are also times when Mercer looks like Robert Mitchum, Humphrey Bogart, and Jimmy Stewart.  I do like Jones’ work, and the variations end up as either an homage to those detective stories, or a mistake that kind of works in her favor.

The other concern is going black and white for the printing.  I realize that going black and white is cheaper, and represents the “indie” spirit, and for a noir story like this one, going this route is really a big consideration. However I can’t help but wonder if color would have helped the reader differentiate the various characters that appear in one chapter, then reappear many chapters later.  I’ve seen and raved about Jones’ work on Dark Horse’s Doctor Horrible one-shot, so I know just how good her work looks in color.

Those who are expecting something completely new and different than what has come before are going to be disappointed, but those who want to read an engaging noir story that has believable characters wrapped up in a mystery with a realistic ending will enjoy this graphic novel.  It’s not without its problems, but “You Have Killed Me” is definitely worth 4 out of 5 Stars.


The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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