Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Twelve Reasons to Die Review



Sometimes artists want to crossover into different genres. This usually pertains to a singer who wakes up in the morning and decides he is famous enough to act (gettin’ jiggy with Will Smith), and sometimes it is a singer deciding he can make a comic (looking your way Coheed and Cambria). Usually this comes with varied success and not an Eisner Award for Best Limited Series (Gerard Way’s mind-melting Umbrella Academy). With the release of Ghostface Killah’s Twelve Reasons to Die, we have a comic that is near the upper-echelon of artist crossovers and a project that would be a grand undertaking for anyone. Without a doubt, Twelve Reasons to Die is one of the most ambitious comics you will read this year. Hit the jump to find out why!

Creators: Ghostface Killah, Adrian Younge
Story by: Adrian Younge, Ce Garcia, Matt Rosenberg
Written by: Matthew Rosenberg, Patrick Kindlon
Illustrators: Breno Tamura, Gus Storms, Kyle Strahm, Joe Infurnari
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
         
Cover by Ronald Wimberly.
          Twelve Reasons to Die is a crime-drama/horror comic set in Italy during the 1960s and 80s. These two time periods have been respectively dubbed The Lead Years and The Dead Years. The Lead Years explains the period and shows the 12 DeLucas’ rise to power where they eventually meet Anthony Starks (bearing a striking resemblance to Ghostface), and The Dead Years follows a record hunter, or “crate digger” as they like to be called, as he searches for nine vinyl records played during the death of his employer’s friends. During The Dead Years, we receive flashes of the horror part of the comic during some grisly death scenes. I’ve never been one to fear sheep, but one of the panels involving death by evil sheep will have me wary of nighttime country drives for awhile now.

          One of the hard parts about stories with time skips is keeping track of it all. This is where the numerous interior artists come in to play. The Lead Years is drawn by Breno Tamura with a gritty ferocity showing that “This wasn’t that romantic gangster bullshit Americans love in their movies,” while Gus Storms comes in as the artist for The Dead Years which makes the transition instantly recognizable by the calmer drawing style. The horror scenes are drawn with a feeling of impending violence by Kyle Strahm and Joe Infurnari. Just by gazing at the panels, a feeling of unease arises. This is all brought together by the coloring work of Jean-Paul Csuka who makes each period distinct and gorgeous.

Cover by Christopher Mitten.
          While reading through Twelve Reasons to Die, I couldn’t help but get a Memento feel from the story. With one narrative strand in the past and another in the future showing grisly flashbacks, I can’t help but read and wait for that “holy shit” moment where they all tie together with a blood-soaked bow on top. Rosenberg slowly feeds us different parts of the story in order to pique our curiosity without ever satisfying it, which brings about my only complaint: I’m not really satisfied. I guess that is the point though to tantalize the reader into the next issue, but I wanted more.

          It also bears mentioning that the comic has a tie-in album of the same name. The album follows the story of Anthony Starks as the DeLuca’s enforcer. Ideas from the comic ended up in the album and vice versa. They complement each other, and by listening to the album and reading the comic, you get a more complete story. You also get to hear Ghostface Killah rhyming over tracks, which is always a joy.

VERDICT - BUY IT

          In the end, Twelve Reasons to Die is an ambitious and gorgeous comic that tantalizes readers while making them yearn for more. With over twenty artists collaborating on the project, each issue is going to be a shotgun to the face of drama and violence. Even though I can’t tell if I’m fully satisfied, I know I desire more dance club brawls, killer bees, evil sheep, and vinyl.


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