The Bronx Kill Review by Albert Lahrman
Monday - April 25, 2011
I have never been what I would call a huge fan of noir style comics. While most crime comics always seem to me to be one trick ponies with very few bringing something new to the table, The Bronx Kill serves up a buffet of dark twists, troubled/flawed characters, and an ending that made me feel uncomfortable and enraged at the same time. I loved it all.
Martin Keane is a novelist whose second book has met with scathing critiques and left him unsure if he has chosen the right career path. His father, a career New York City police officer, does not seem to understand Martin's choice and never misses a chance to remind him. The story begins with a young Martin being told the tale of his great grandfather whose name he shares, a policeman killed in the line of duty in the bleak area of The Bronx Kill. Milligan returns to The Kill (a Dutch word for creek) throughout the story and it becomes a character- lonely and isolated- unto itself and one that is used to great effect.
In addition to his strained relationship with his father, Martin's relationship with his new wife, Erin, is also strained. She is not shy about her opinion of his newest novel and her feelings on Martin's problems with himself, and he seems almost fragile when she delivers these words to him. Her complaints also push Martin towards his next novel and his desire to unravel the mystery of his grandfather's death. Martin leaves the country, traveling to Ireland for research, and returns months later uneventfully.
But soon his wife vanishes and Martin's world is filled with only one desire. Find her. Along the way the dark history of the Keane Family, The Bronx Kill, and twist after twist are interwoven into the story until we come to the end. I have to admit that the ending snuck up on me. I thought I could see where Milligan was going but he feints and dodges so many times that while you think you know what has happened, you- at least I- found myself surprised by it.
Milligan intersperses the main story with sections of the novel Martin is working on, complete with writers notes and editing marks. The book has strange connections to the dark story unfolding in Martin's life and adds a nice touch to the whole comic. Romberger's pencils (this is a black and white comic) are sharp and at times gritty, adding even more to the story.
All in all The Bronx Kill is a damn fine read and has easily convinced me that the next time I hit my local comic shop that I should check out more of the Vertigo/Crime imprint as well as other crime themed tales.
Albert Lahrman is a father of three, husband, and intergalactic crime lord. The last may or may not be true. It would be wise not to test it.
The Bronx Kill
Publisher: DC/Vertigo Crime
Written by: Peter Milligan
Art: James Romberger