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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fear in Four Colors: Jason Starr's The Chill

By Paige MacGregor

Every girl wants her first time to be special, but for Arlana Flaherty, “special” doesn’t even begin to describe the first time she made love to her boyfriend, Martin Cleary. Unfortunately for this beautiful Irish lass, the Flaherty clan are the keepers of “The Chill”, an old and powerful magic that grants immortality to a select few for the price of innocent men’s lives. And Arlana’s father has a taste for everlasting life.

More than 40 years later, a serial killer is on the loose in New York City, and as the number of sadistic, ritualistic murders begins to add up, the NYPD and FBI hone in on a suspect: a beautiful young woman named Arlana. The problem? Every witness provides a different description of Arlana, a fact that makes sense to no one save a beaten-down Irish cop named Martin Cleary.

Award-winning novelist and screenwriter Jason Starr’s first foray into the world of comics has resulted in the 192-page graphic novel The Chill, first published in 2009 by Vertigo Crime, a sub-imprint of DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint. The Chill is a gritty, noir-style thriller illustrated by Mick Bertilorenzi. Like the silver screen adaptations of Raymond Chandler and other authors’ original noir fiction, Bertilorenzi brings Starr’s story to life in high-contrast black and white perfect for modern crime fiction like The Chill. The graphic novel’s visual style is reminiscent of newsprint, even down to the texture of the paper, and the result is a tableau that compliments Starr’s writing without detracting from the progression of his story.

Starr’s background as a novelist shines through, and is evident in the extent to which the characters are developed, the complexity of the story, and the twisted, unexpected ending. Even readers who believe they know how it will end as they make their way through the graphic novel will be surprised by the grotesque nature of Starr’s ending, which is so deeply disturbing as to be virtually unpredictable. The Chill is far from tame, as readers will discover as soon as they begin reading. It's rife with graphic nudity, gore and sex, but it is the fact that Starr addresses the subject of ritualistic murder, intrigue and sexual manipulation in such a head-on manner that sets The Chill apart from other graphic novels I have read.

While it is possible to read The Chill in a single sitting, this is not a light graphic novel. As previously mentioned, The Chill is 192 pages long, and the action doesn't stop for a second, even when Starr's characters are laying out exposition. Fans of horror comics and thrillers certainly will enjoy Jason Starr's crime drama, and I highly recommend picking up a copy, either directly from Vertigo Crime or from another comic book retailer.

1 comment:

Chris H said...

Oh! I know what I'm picking up at the comic shop tonight. This sounds great! Nice review, B-Sol!

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