1.05.2011

1.05.11 Review (Singular)

Sweets #4 (Image): If you have only one book to buy this week, this is the one. Sweets functions as a prime lesson in how to make quality comics. It’d be easy to get lost in the beautiful amber and sepia drenched deluge of color, but that would be missing the finer points about the mechanics of visual storytelling on display. There’s so much extra effort radiating from each panel. It’s there in the stippling ink marks that give the shots their gritty texture. It’s there in the small white burst of a sound effect as the battering ram hammers a door. It’s there with a cat leaping across the porch or a medical attendant leaving just to go and get more gauze. None of these elements are required to tell the basic story, but Chamberlain includes them because he knows they’re necessary to achieve this deep level of realism. There are dead cats, dead cops, targeted kids, and keys to a bakery, and Chamberlain never lets up the multi-faceted depiction of characters as the action unfolds. For instance, I liked the portrayal of the Lieutenant here; previously he’s been depicted as t his sort of gruff old salty dog, which is entertaining, but we see another side of him in this issue. He’s a good manager who watches out for his squad and knows when to stay calm and make the difficult, unpopular, but correct decisions. Chamberlain puts protagonist Curt Delatte down at the bottom here and it’s interesting to see how he channels all the grief. He actually pours himself back into the work and goes to re-examine the crime scene. It’s subtle choices like that which aren’t overtly explained, which don’t even consciously register to the reader at first, but make all the difference in establishing human plausibility, thus suspending our fictional disbelief, allowing us to perceive this more as real people doing real things that we really care about. Chamberlain has built a pressure cooker in this series mentally and physically for the lead character. I hope that it’s just the darkest before the dawn, but I fear it might only get worse. You have to wonder about that dead cat story that’s spliced into the conversation; just who is the cat in this little analogy? I hope it’s not Curt. Grade A.

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