Friday, 1 April 2016
The Kitchen Review (Ollie Masters, Ming Doyle)
Hell’s Kitchen, the 1970s: Irish and Italian mobsters, dirty streets, crime, money, power (you can practically hear Gimme Shelter fading in)… now imagine the mobsters have vaginas! Whaaaaaaaaaa… Mind. Blown.
Yup, The Kitchen (and its tagline - A Woman’s Work Is Never Done - both flippin’ the script on patriarchy!) is all about lady gangsters. And that’s the whole concept. Besides that it’s a competent, if generic, mob story with little in the way of originality going for it.
Our trio start out as hopeless debt collectors, nervously making cash pickups while their husbands are in the slammer, eventually becoming crime lynchpins themselves. It’s the standard rise and fall arc that’s a staple of gangster stories though I will say I wasn’t bored reading it – the female angle works to hold the interest up to an extent.
There’s some decent character work on at least one of the women (Raven) while the other two remain more or less forgettable wallflowers. The other characters though? The very definition of cookie cutter characters: the hooker with a heart of gold; the male love interest (who at least isn’t a cop, working that star-crossed lovers angle); the fat Italian mob boss who’s actually introduced eating a plate of pasta. Gee. Neric. No cop characters at all though - where the hell were the cops anyway? Were there just none in Noo Yawk City in the ‘70s? It felt lazy of writer Ollie Masters to leave out/ignore this element entirely in a crime story.
Artist Ming Doyle draws some good pages that Jordie Bellaire colours well. Becky Cloonan’s covers are pretty good too. If I don’t sound too enthused about the art it’s because, like Master’s script, it’s just not doing anything very exciting, but, also like the script, it wasn’t bad.
I’d recommend The Kitchen if all you’re after is a perfectly acceptable, if unmemorable, ‘70s mob story, but what would’ve been better is if the creative team had done something more original with the concept than simply substituting male protagonists for female.