Written by Daniel Corey
Art by Anthony Diecidue
Published by Image Comics
This series is on the verge of being over. The “To Be Concluded” at the end is certainly ominous, especially considering that the mystery has heated up almost to a boiling point. I’m sad to see it go because I’ve enjoyed it so much, but I also recognize that I’m a glutton for densely plotted comics and television. As always, there will be some spoilers ahead.
The issue starts by explaining some of Talmadge’s backstory with Obek. In the present, Talmadge and Angel are driving toward an abandoned marine barracks and find it occupied by Kristeitis fugitives. Shortly after they arrive, NSS operatives come on the scene to arrest Talmadge, who turns the tables on the lieutenant and tells him that he understands what’s happened. He was sent on this mission in the hope that he would fail, and the treaty would break down because a signed treaty would end both NSS and organized crime’s influence in the city. He also knows that it was Angel who knocked him out, but she was not the one who killed Eldred. After some struggle, he and Angel escape to take care of the killer.
Some of this happened too damn fast. The detective had apparently solved most of the mystery in two issues after setting out a great deal of dense material and backstory. It’s traditional to have the detective explain the mystery to the reader, which is what they do here, but it was sort of jarring to realize that all of the pieces were already in place. If this really is it, I wish Daniel Corey and Anthony Diecidue had stretched this out to six issues and allowed the mystery to linger a bit longer. I also wish more had been done with this fleshed out universe. The story twist certainly makes sense because the missing girl was never really the point of the mystery. The whole point was why someone would try and derail the peace talks. So, overall, the series has stayed true to its noir roots.
The narration bubbles are a bit of a mystery to me. Talmadge is describing the events from a future moment and acknowledges that we haven’t caught up yet, but many of his thoughts are regrets and melancholy thoughts, the kind we haven’t heard from him before. What does this mean? Is there some final twist that will further embitter him? That would be a fitting Chinatown moment, appropriate for a series so steeped in noir tropes.
The big shift in this issue is the artwork done by Anthony Diecidue, who pretty dramatically changes the art direction. Diecidue has given the art a much more dynamic feel, even though a lot of that is just the use of motion lines. The facial expressions are a bit more blurry and out-of-focus, but that gives the impression that they’re moving rather than posing. I wish he had been in all along. I’m sad at the thought that this series is almost done, but so it goes.