Sunday, August 7, 2011

Comics Sunday No. 1 -- Blue Estate #1

Hey, people, this is Swartzie from Movie Monday, stepping up to the plate to review comic books with Comics Sunday, which will feature a new review of a comic book I've purchased every sunday (duh).  My tastes tend to lean toward the independents, but the ocassional superhero title will pop up from time to time. 

And now, let's get this show on the road with the first review of Image Comics' Blue Estate #1.


"In my world, you can barely tell the cops from the criminals, and the people...shit, they’re pretty much on their own."

--Roy Devine, Jr., Blue Estate

Neo-noir is a touchy thing. Sometimes you can score a slam dunk, and other times you come off sounding like a bad rip-off of Reservoir Dogs (which was a rip-off by a rip-off artist, but I rest my case). It’s rare when a comic comes along and hits all the neo-noir piano keys just right. Such is the case with Blue Estate #1, titled The Rachel Situation, published by Image Comics and priced at $2.99.

Blue Estate begins with Roy Devine, Jr., an overweight, stubble-wearing private eye who’s watching an episode of Law & Order: SVU on his computer when Rachel Maddox, the red-haired femme fatale of our story, walks through his office door. She flicks Roy’s business card at his forehead, calls him an f***ing idiot, and knocks him to the floor, declaring, "You don’t have the slightest idea what’s going on, do you?"

The story shifts into flashback mode as it explains Rachel’s relationship with washed-up movie star Bruce Maddox, an obvious parody of Steven Seagal. The comic has this great two-page spread of Bruce and Rachel’s rocky relationship and Bruce’s downward spiral from movie star (and his hilarious titled hit film, Hunt to Kill) to direct-to-video hero (not unlike his real-life counterpart). The comic even parodies Seagal’s nasty relationship with his former producer, Julius R. Nasso, who embezzled money from his productions for years until his prized actor found out.

In Blue Estate, Nasso is represented by Vadim Petrovich Razov, an ex-KGB operative turned Russian mob boss who has his fingers in everything from prostitution to drugs to identity theft. Vadim is making a deal with Don Luciano, the head of the west coast cosa nostra, to start a gunrunning operation, and it might just work...if it weren’t for Tony Luciano, Don’s son, who can’t even remember to latch a briefcase full of pay-off money.

As Roy’s dad, the head of the LAPD Major Crimes Unit, closes in on Don Luciano and his son Tony, several more characters rear their ugly heads and become potential players in this trippy neo-noir drama, which is building into something great in this first issue.

Although the script by Andrew Osborne is tight and the dialogue is snappy, the real hero of Blue Estate is Viktor Kalvachev. Not only did he construct the eye-catching cover (which features the barrel of a gun pouring whiskey into a glass, and inside the whiskey is the image of a 40’s-style woman in her bra and panties), he provided the story (with his comrade Kosta Yanev), did the design work, colored the entire issue, and provided some art. Blue Estate is his baby, and he’s damn proud of it, and that pride shows on every page.

The shifting art styles, provided by Nathan Fox, Toby Cypress, and Robert Valley, don’t disrupt the storytelling or shift in such a drastic manner that you can’t read the comic anymore. Each artist has their own way of laying out the panels and drawing the characters, but the character designs remain consistent throughout, and the shifting art provides different perspectives on the different characters’ views of things.

If I had a favorite moment in Blue Estate (besides the whole Seagal-Nasso parody), it would probably be on the last page, where Rachel answers her cell phone, which she had stashed down the front of her panties. She tells the caller that she "put it somewhere that my husband never bothers to look," which was the best joke in the comic.

Ever since Robert Kirkland (The Walking Dead, Invincible, and now of The Infinite) took over operations at Image Comics, they’ve really stepped up their game and become a major competitor in the comic book world. I’ve always preferred my independents over Marvel and DC, and Blue Estate is proof that Image supports the independent spirit. I hope they continue to do so for many years to come.

If you like your comics a bit darker and edgier, can appreciate the neo-noir genre, or just enjoy a good crime story, then Blue Estate is for you. You can pick it up at your local comic shop or online at many fine retailers, and I encourage you to check out Blue Estate’s website,, for more details, sneak peeks, and info.

Until next time this is Justin Swartz, signing off. Be sure to check out my other blog, Movie Monday (, where I review different bargain bin movies that you can buy for ten bucks or less.