Time for the big score with this week’s “So You Want To Read Comics.” This is our weekly feature where we take a look at a specific topic, then give you two comic book recommendations, perfect for new readers, based on that topic. This week we’re looking deeper at the heist movie.
A while back we focused on the crime genre as a whole, but not all crime is created differently and certain ones come with their own tropes and hallmarks when it comes to how they’re depicted in fiction, especially when we’re talking about heists. Starting back in the ’50s with Asphalt Jungle, the heist subgenre became massively popular through the 60s and never really fell off. From Ocean’s 11, to The Italian Job, to the first Mission: Impossible movie, to Inception, these movies have solidified the elements of a good heist story in our minds. There’s the crew, the planning, the escape, and the foil trying to stop the crime every step of the way and of course, all the tension about whether they’re going to get away with it or not. One of the most unique aspects of this type of story is how it almost always follows the criminals’ perspectives, forcing the audience to at least root for them long enough to see the crime through to the end.
Let’s take a look at a couple of comics that manage to take these elements, do them justice, and add their own spin on them.
4 Kids Walk Into A Bank: A Torrid Tale of Child Crime
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Artist: Tyler Boss
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Heist stories naturally make us want to root for the bad guys, having those “bad guys” be pre-teens with wild imaginations and a love of tabletop RPGs, makes it all the easier. 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank, is the story of a girl named Paige whose father was a two-bit criminal back in the day but has since gone clean. Except his old crew shows up trying to recruit him for one more job. So Paige decides that to keep her dad clear, she and her friends are going to rob the bank before he can. What you get with this one is all the classic heist movie clichés, but as seen through the eyes of a 12-year-old. Upfront this is a fairly comedic book, especially as Paige’s friends bicker and butt heads over things. But, underneath there is a lot of heart here and also a bit of darkness as well. This is a good one to check out if you’re ready to see the heist subgenre get played within some unique and unexpected ways.
Dark Rain: A New Orleans Story
Writer: Mat Johnson
Artist: Simone Gane
The best stories out there manage to not only tell an interesting and entertaining tale, but also touch on things deeper than the surface and make the audience think about things they hadn’t before. That’s the sort of story you get with Dark Rain. Set in 2005 in the midst of the hurricane season, Dark Rain, is the story of two cons trying to rob an abandoned bank in the middle of a storm. While the heist itself is exciting and nerve-wracking, it’s the commentary on the social and economic issues facing the city that transforms this story into a poignant story. As much as this story is about how the two enact their plan, it’s also very much about the why, which is something a lot of heist stories don’t get into in a meaningful way. But as serious as this sounds there is some levity to be found here and a comedic streak, albeit a bit dark at times, runs through this as well.
What are some of your favorite heist movies/stories? What are your thoughts on these recommendations? Let us know in the comments section below.