With so many big names and big events plastered across the shelves of your LCS, sometimes great comics get left behind – buried in longboxes until someone comes along to find these Hidden Gems.
My fascination with noir and specifically Vertigo Crime continues. To remind you, the last book I reviewed from that line was The Chill. Despite its many flaws I liked the book, but I think the next one fares better altogether. They’re both para-psychological and paranormal yarns, but where The Chill is a horror story more than a crime book, Area 10 never abandons its noir nature.
Detective Adam Kamen investigates the case of a serial killer nicknamed “Henry the Eighth,” who leaves headless corpses behind him. One day, Kamen falls a victim to a vicious and bizarre incident that creates a hole in his skull. After recovering and beginning a psychiatric treatment (also due to a past personal tragedy), Kamen returns to the investigation, only to find himself suffering from seizures in which he experiences time differently. For example, while talking to an old associate, he sees a much younger version of the other person. The mother of an alleged victim is a young girl and an old lady at the same time.
This leads to the shrink’s, Eileen Avery, further involvement with Adam and her introducing the theories of open mindedness, “third eye” and trepanation. Moreso, when the connection between the murder victims and their heads are discovered, Adam finds out that his new situation is very much related to the case.
Christos Gage (Avengers: The Initiative) entails this mystery into a great story, one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve read or seen in a long time. I found myself holding the book tightly during most of the twists Gage uses. My only regret is that the book ends after 180 pages. Prior to Area 10 I had no doubt Gage is one of the best new talents of the last five years, and this book just seals it for me. I’d really love to see more of this kind of comic books from him.
I try very hard to remember anything I’ve seen in the past from Chris Samnee (The Mighty), but I couldn’t get anywhere beyond recalling his name. It doesn’t matter, because Samnee’s black and white art makes the best interpretation of Gage’s script.
Area 10 makes for the best book I’ve read so far from Vertigo Crime, but I do hope to see some competition in the future (my next read: The Executor). In any event, this book gets 4.5 out of 5 drills to the forehead.