The Black Monday Murders #8

Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Tomm Coker
Colorist: Michael Garland
Letterer: Rus Wooten
Publisher: Image

Review by Jim Allegro

I have to confess that The Black Monday Murders #8 was a bit of a letdown.  I had to wait a long time for the final issue of the second arc, and I was disappointed by the thin and plodding story.  Jonathan Hickman stumbles a bit here as he tries to bring to a resolution several strands of this dark and engaging thriller.  The plot elements that make this comic such a fun read – the murder mystery, the menacing conspiracy, and the revelation of stock market manipulation – disappear into the background as the plot turns into a tedious dark magic rumble between Ria Rothschild and Viktor in an ancient duel known as the Scales.

Ria’s quest to vanquish her brother’s killer reminds us of the things that the writer does right with this comic.  The Black Monday Murders is both a bold and sweeping story about the forces that control our economic lives and an intimate story about family, love, and redemption.  Tomm Coker’s evocative art and Michael Garland’s shading and sparing use of bright colors immerse these stories in a world that matches the ominous nature of the subject matter.  These intricate and carefully-plotted elements usually combine to bring to the story an ambitious scope that makes it hard to hold against the creators the uneven pace at which they produce this comic book.

We can also respect their attempt to bring all of these moving parts together in a supernatural battle royale.  But, there is more dialogue than actual fighting in this issue, and the writer’s otherwise brilliant use of silences to build suspense fails in this case to keep the reader engaged through the first two acts of this narrative.  The final act of the book winds down Detective Dumas’ investigation in an equally anti-climactic fashion.  Dumas’ sleuthing comes to an abrupt halt in Ria’s office, when he confronts her with knowledge of the conspiracy, but he admits that he has no evidence to prove it.  Dumas’ answer to a question that Ria then poses to him is the most interesting moment in the entire issue.

I cannot help wondering where Hickman intends to go next now that he has resolved the major conflicts that drive the first eight issues.  The introduction of a new character in the epilogue hints at the global character of this conspiracy, as does the entertaining back matter, which is another creative element of the book that also adds to its sinister and menacing feel.  I look forward to reading more.

Verdict: Buy it.

I love this comic, so even though The Black Monday Murders #8 has its faults, it remains a buy.  I have faith that Hickman will get his groove back and, hopefully, the production schedule will settle.  But, if you’re entering the story with this issue, you might want to wait for the trade.

Jim Allegro

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