The White Suits #1 – Friday Flash Review

The White Suits 01

Shadowhawk and Bane of Kings take a look at Dark Horse’s newest number 1.

“The art is tough to follow and the story is pretty bland in this first issue, so I can only hope that things improve in the next issue.” ~Shadowhawk, The Founding Fields

Cypress delivers some awesome unorthodox artwork in a decent noir comic that is far from bad, but it doesn’t quite meet its potential either. Time will tell whether it’s a mini-series worth sticking with or not” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields

Shadowhawk:

I picked this issue up on pretty much a whim. I’d asked Bane what he wanted to review for this week’s comics and he said that he wouldn’t be able to pick his comics up in time to be able to review anything, but that he was going to get some digital issues and White Suits #1 was one of them. So I said okay, and here we are. I had no idea whatsoever what this issue was going to be about, and I still kind of don’t, having read the issue now. The thing is that the art is so convoluted with its black and white noir/neo-noir visuals that nothing really pops out of the page. The art is definitely the big culprit here.

Frank Barbiere sets up an interesting enough situation here with his two protagonists, one an FBI agent and the other a retrograde amnesiac who is possibly one of the killers that the agent has been looking for several years now. The two characters don’t interact until much later in the issue, not almost till the last couple pages in fact, and this kind of robs their subplot of any interesting dynamic in and of itself since things are very much up in the air by then. The scenes involving these characters are cut with scenes involving the actual killers, their targets, and their boss, so that we get quite a wide perspective on everything.

But none of it really clicks together because I spent most of the time reading this comic in trying to figure out what was happening in each panel. It got to the point that I was wondering whether I would need a magnifying glass for several of these panels. I don’t enjoy comics like this, where the artist experiments with this really weird and wild style in order to set up a unique moment. If the art had been several degrees clearer, then I would have actually enjoyed the issue.

But as things stand, I just couldn’t get into any of it. Frankly, I was rather bored and just wanted to get it all done and over with. The story didn’t work for me, and the art certainly didn’t either. A missed opportunity here, I think. I might get the second issue next month, haven’t really decided. Am in no hurry for sure.

Rating: 4/10

Bane of Kings:

Story: Frank Barbiere | Art: Toby Cypress

Mysterious killers dressed in white, they savaged the Cold War Russian underworld-then disappeared. Now they have resurfaced in New York, leaving a trail of dead mobsters. In this bloody wake, an amnesiac and an FBI agent search for the answer to a single question: Who are the White Suits?

* Debuted in the award-winning Dark Horse Presents.

* Violent noir action from Frank Barbiere (Blackout) and Toby Cypress (Blue Estate, Predator).

The White Suits is among a new wave of strong mini-series launching from Dark Horse Comics. Along with this book we also have the upcoming Gravity-esque Pariah, Matt Kindt’s upcoming Rebel Heist mini-series for Star Wars and of course Serenity: Leaves on the Wind. It’s the first of a four issue book that is a nice break from all the superhero comics that have been flooding the market lately, but sadly with all its great ideas doesn’t quite live up to its potential.

With the return of the mysterious White Suits who were responsible for savaging the Russian Underworld during the Cold War – only now turn their attention to New York, it’s an idea that has a pretty cool premise especially when you have an amnesiac as your narrator dealing with an enigmatic woman who’s been hunting him. It seems however that these elements don’t really mash together well, meaning that the narrative suffers as a result – which is a shame, because we could have had a bigger impact from the start.

However, there is plenty of potential here. Toby Cypress’ artwork is unusual to say the least, and really bring a good layer of quality to the otherwise flawed storyline.  The artwork is a blend of white, red and black and with Cypress doing the colouring duties as well it makes the book all the more readable, and has the early showings of great potential that could come if you’re willing to give this book a chance beyond its first issue. It looks entertaining for sure – but Barbiere’s writing isn’t quite hitting the top levels yet, and with a load of excellent books on shelves already he’s going to have to do a bit better than okay to draw readers to this book.

That’s not to say The White Suits is bad though. It’s far from the worst comic you’ll ever read. Noir fans will find something to enjoy here but will also quickly spot a cliché, the man with no name running from his past but can’t remember quite what it is. There isn’t anything new here but it’ll be interesting to see how Barbiere tackles this situation, because we could well be looking a mini-series that could only get better as it goes on and may end up being best saved for waiting for the trade collection.

If you want to find out the mystery of the White Suits then you’ll want to read this comic. It’s not bad, but it’s not great either. However, it’s harsh to judge a series based on its first issue alone so it’ll be interesting to see where things go from here.

However, the book has certainly got me as a reader interested in exploring more of Barbiere’s writing talents in books such as Blackout (also found in the pages of Dark Horse Presents) but it’s got me interested in finding out more of Cypress’ artwork in books like Blue Estate – his artwork is bold, unorthodox and striking and could be a good artist to keep an eye on in the future, especially in the noir genre. It’s certainly been an interesting experiment reading this title, and the second issue will probably end up being the make or break issue for me, to decide whether I stick with the book for its whole run or wait for the trade paperback release.

Rating: 3/5

Shadowhawk is a regular contributor to TFF. A resident of Dubai, Shadowhawk reads, reads and reads. His opinions are always clear and concise. His articles always worth reading.

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