Written by Steve Niles
Drawn by Tony Harris
This week saw the debut of another new series from Image Comics, ‘Chin Music’ written by Steve Niles and illustrated by Tony Harris. Since the announcement of the series, I have been intrigued to read the first issue and I was immediately drawn to the premise of the book.
This issue jumps back and forth from Egypt in an unspecified time to prohibition-era Chicago in the 1920s. In Egypt we are introduced to a man with supernatural abilities fleeing from three shrouded pursuers and despite the man’s considerable powers the three apprehend him and flay him alive.
The injured man while crawling away is nearly run over by none other than Elliot Ness! The rest of the book deals with Agent Ness who clearly is dabbling in supernatural elements after meeting this stranger and also the often detailed story of the war between Elliot Ness and Al Capone, except with a twist.
Steve Niles is most notable for writing horror fiction with most of his comic-book work heavy on the macabre and Chin Music is no exception. It’s clear that the writer is reveling in this mash-up of mobsters and the supernatural and it works really well. The first issue is a great set-up for further developments and his plot offers up some neat teases, which I’m really interested to see where they go.
While I enjoyed the writing on the book, the real draw and what made this book really work for me was Tony Harris on art duties. The issue itself was very light on dialogue and Niles relies on Harris to convey a lot of the plot through his art. It’s a ballsy move that doesn’t always work for a lot of writers and if it was a less skilled artist than Tony Harris it would’ve failed here too. Instead, he takes to the issue with aplomb. Every page and every panel is beautifully rendered with a hyper attention to detail. His panel layout, decorated with art deco borders gave the book a fluidity that some artists still strive for in the business today. He matches the writing and conveys the mood and atmosphere of the horror depicted with ease.
There is still a lot of mystique surrounding the story after this issue but that’s fine, as I understand the creators don’t want to show their whole hand straight away and want this to serve as a set-up. I was interested enough with what I got in the issue to want to continue and see where it leads. Hopefully next issue we get more meat where the story is concerned.
4 out of 5 nerds