Noir: A Collection of Crime Comics – Various (Dark Horse)

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Noir does exactly what its cover says it will. It collects a series of short stories of crime and criminals, all of which are delivered in stark, unforgiving monochrome. A visual feast of black and white tales of ne’er do wells and foul deeds written and illustrated by the who’s who of the four colour universe, Noir is a universe removed from the super heroics that usually fuel comics, and feels like a love letter to the halcyon days of EC and the fifties fare that threw American into a tailspin and saw the Comics Code become an everyday part of modern life.

As is true of any collection, some entries resonate with the reader more than others, and while the highlights will vary according to individual taste, Jeff Lemire’s tale of a long suffering farmer finding the solution to all of his financial woes in unexpected fashion, and Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips story of the perils of online dating are worth the price of admission alone.  Inventive, enthralling and plumbing the depths of all manner of criminal depravity and genuine mystery, Noir is wonderful way to spend an hour or two exploring the hidden pleasures of the dark side. Tim Cundle

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