The Black Monday Murders – Image Comics
Jonathan Hickman / Tom Coker / Michael Garland / Rus Wooton
Jonathan Hickman is pure genius. I’m not spouting hyperbole here - he’s pure genius, period. His stories are so tightly plotted that even the least engaging of his works manages to get the reader hooked. What I like the most about his work is the tight plotting means nothing is thrown in just for fun, every line, even the throw away stuff, matters and with impact. The biggest detractor to Hickman’s work is sometimes his background as a designer leads to page after page of extra material that doesn’t always directly relate to the story itself. Sometimes it’s just neat filler, sometimes it’s confusing graphs and whatnot, but with The Black Monday Murders, Hickman’s filler material has finally elevated into essential territory making one of the most complex and perfected stories of his catalogue.
I buy all of Hickman’s stuff in trade, no matter the story, as I just take to Hickman’s plotting so much that I am confident to buy the material, sight unseen, and I know I’m going to enjoy it, even if it isn’t part of my usual wheelhouse. Buying this latest volume of Hickman’s work, I asked the wise silver sages of the Snail about it and was told: “High concept – Vampires control the stock market.” It’s an over simplification, but it’s spot on for a brief and easy selling point. The story hooks onto the idea of numbers as part of the primal materials of reality. The idea that math, even before mathematicians discovered theories and equations, math defines aspects of reality that predate language and society altogether. So when you consider money, finance, and the systems that define those concepts they go much deeper than we’ve ever considered. The Black Monday Murders taps into that primal concept and creates a gripping story. Consider if things like ancient gods, dark gods, Cthulhu (sp?) type things are tied to the primal state of being of our reality, then they are deeply rooted in numbers, math, and their ultimate offering to existence is finance. And if this consideration is true, then consider how say the dying economy of Soviet Russia or the stock market collapse affects the world and the people who worship those primal beings. Imagine if fighting for control of a company was on scale to fighting for the attention of a primal deity. Imagine is the true weight of finance was the power over souls and humanity at large. Hickman does and the story is insane.
Now, like I said, all the extra material is amazing and greatly adds to the main story, which is beautifully drawn. The characters are extremely well developed and to me the pacing of this tale is one of Hickman’s best efforts. Without a doubt, this has become my favourite Hickman piece by a slight marginal lead. (‘cause I love them all)
Don’t be surprised if you can’t find it on the shelves, it’s so good it sells before it even comes in, but rush to one of the wise silver sages of the Snail and get an order in. You will not regret it.
All hail, Mammon!