Thursday, 20 October 2016

Tyler Cross: Black Rock Review (Fabien Nury, Bruno)


Tyler Cross is hired to rip-off 20 kilos of smack from rival gangsters. He becomes the sole survivor of the botched and bloody theft and makes it away with most of the heroin to Black Rock, a small mining town on the Texas/Mexico border. While he quietly tries to make contact with his employer, the corrupt town officials find out who he is and what he’s got – will he manage to survive with the drugs once again?

I’ve never heard of Tyler Cross before but I’m glad I gave it a shot as this first book isn’t bad. Writer Fabien Nury and artist Bruno craft a fast-moving, fairly interesting, and competent story in the hard-boiled crime style. 

Tyler though is about as generic a lead as you can get. He’s every Man-With-No-Name, every resourceful and dangerous tough guy from every crime story - think Richard Stark’s Parker essentially. The rest of the characters are similarly archetypical with a storyline straight from the classic spaghetti westerns of the ‘60s – a town in thrall to bullies, the lone gunman who saves them, etc. 

What always bothers me about hard-boiled crime fiction is the total absence of emotion in the stories. My reaction to just about everything that happened was as matter-of-fact and stoic as Tyler’s hard, monotone attitude (the exception is an unpleasant scene where the villain pisses on a woman after beating her up which felt unnecessarily graphic). 

Bruno’s art feels a little too cartoonish for the dark tone. You have a violent and grim story filled with reprehensible scumbags yet the visuals look on par with Johnny Bravo – it’s not a comfortable fit. 

If you enjoyed Darwyn Cooke’s Parker adaptations for IDW and are sad we won’t be getting anymore (RIP Darwyn), Tyler Cross will be right up your street. It’s not the kind of comic that’s for everyone though – crime fiction fans will enjoy this the most.

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