Review by Troy Mayes
What happens when you combine a crime noir story with a supernatural story? Well, you get something like Ryder On The Storm, the latest mini-series from Radical Publishing. With some impressive books, does Ryder meet the high standards Radical have set themselves?
While the story shows its hand as early as the front cover, it’s still a thoroughly interesting and slightly twisted one. Ryder is a private investigator in a near future city that has a keen taste for nostalgia. He gets a call from a nightclub singer Katrina Petruska. Her playboy boyfriend has killed himself and he told her to call Ryder if anything happened to him. Ryder takes the case and it turns out to be more than he bargained for. It appears that (SPOILER ALERT) daemons are real living things and Katrina’s boyfriend was trying to expose them. Now Ryder is being pulled into that world and he’s not sure he’s going to like what he finds.
If you’ve ever read or seen a noir story you’ll recognize all the familiar beats. Katrina as the possible femme fatale, Ryder as the private eye (although he has none of your typical vices , something else makes him a grey character), the tense relationship between PI and local law and the family that seems to run everything and in almost conspiracy fashion is tied to the PI’s case. There are also the shots of the city itself that almost make it a character in the book, an oppressive force taking its toll on everyone. As you’re reading through, you notice these things and you think ‘alright, it’s a pretty decent noir story but what’s new?’ Well, the whole daemon aspect throws a whole new light on everything and actually almost warrants a second reading of the book. All these little things click in your head ‘that’s why he did that or that person acted that way’ and it gives you a fresh way to look at the noir aspects of the story. To me, that is a sign of good writing.
Once again the book features Radical’s high quality artwork that has an almost painted feel. If you’ve heard anything about Ryder then you’ve probably heard about the big two-page splash page where we see Katrina’s boyfriend dead, from drilling holes in his head. It’s a powerful and impressive spread that sets the serious tone of the book. The art and panel composition continues to play on that noir theme with characters half in shadow half out and there’s a lot of doubling going on with faces spliced together through two panels. There’s good use of expression in the faces and also the sparse use of sound fx actually makes you feel more in the story. Instead of having a BAM and POW for every punch there’s a careful selection to signify broken bones, gun shots and the almost haunting RRRRing of the drill.
Ryder on the Storm #1 marks the beginning of what looks to be another impressive mini-series for Radical. The painted artwork is of the highest quality and I can’t even begin to explain the fantastic use of color and shading while the mixture of the two genres provides a fresh reading experience for what could have been a standard noir tale.
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