Netherworld issue #1

Netherworld issue #1

Written by Bryan Edward Hill & Rob Levin with Art by Tony Shasteen and Published by Top Cow

Netherworld issue #1 is one part crime and one part a whole lots of action.  This book is a solid read that will pull you in right from the get-go and then have you slam on the brakes as it takes a sharp turn with a cliffhanger that will have you saying “I didn’t see that coming.”

Ray Parker is a man with a checkered past that now spends his time making amends by becoming a bail bondsman.  The story starts in high gear from crime-ridden imagery of the metropolis that will chew you up and spit you out to Ray manhandling a hostage-taking fugitive.  There is a great character moment that juxtaposes a flashback of a bank robbery that Parker was a part of and the hostage scene from the opening of the book.  Here, it is established that Parker has a soft spot for women that stems back to his bank robbery history.  Normally, most bails bondsmen get jobs from police contacts or other sources but Ray Parker stays busy as people search him out for jobs of a specific nature.  The first of the two suitors that contacts Parker is a mysterious woman named Alexis who wants him to keep Madeline, a young lady, out of harm’s way.  The second suitor is a representative of the crime boss Cyrus Kane, a man believed to be an urban legend.  Cyrus Kane is supposedly running the crime underworld from the shadows with very few people having ever seen him.   Kane wants Ray to find the same woman as Alexis.  Ray turns down Cyrus Kane and instead wants to protect Madeline.  Sure enough, Madeline finds herself in trouble and Ray, being a sucker for a woman in distress, comes to her aid.  He finds himself in a situation he wasn’t expecting and the story takes a 180 degree turn as the cliffhanger comes way out of left field.

Hill and Levin write a well paced story that pulls you in from the start.  The dialogue is short and sweet, and to the point, helping to define the characters’ personalities.  A perfect example of this great dialogue is from the opening scene where Ray talks to the fugitive into releasing the woman he is holding hostage.  Ray comes across cold and very calculating but it is not a reflection of how he really feels.  There is one bit of criticism that maybe to some people not a criticism at all but just a twist ending.  Without spoilers, the book sets itself up well as a crime story which has a good premise with character depth.  Instead, the very end of the book turns the story on its ear.  Again, this might not be a problem for some once the series gets a few issues under its belt, defining the rules of the world the book inhabits.  Hopefully the twist ending won’t come across as being a twist for the sake of being a twist.

Shasteen’s art is nothing short of dynamic capturing action superbly.  With each punch thrown and every fight banging, it will have the reader wincing.  Shasteen has a great talent of capturing emotion in the faces and especially the eyes of the characters which adds depth to the already well fleshed out characters.

Give the book a chance and be prepared for an ending that will have you scratching your head.

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