Eric Skillman and Jhomar Soriano - Liar's Kiss (3 stars)

Unpredictable crime noir graphic novel from new writer and artist team

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Review of Eric Skillman and Jhomar Soriano's new graphic novel Liar's Kiss

Top Shelf Comix

Featuring a real loser of a protagonist and devolving around a series of misunderstandings and bad coincidences, this stylish, noirish hard-boiled crime graphic novel recalls, among other things, certain films of the Coen brothers. In fact, this slim book (slim because the storytelling is lean and mean) is very cinematic, from the smart dialogue to the fast pacing and the shadowy, angular illustrations. And as with the Coens’ neo-noir Blood Simple, Liar’s Kiss takes the conventions of the post-war American film noirs of the 1940s and 50s and turns them on their head.

In the opening (or pre-credit) sequence, we’re introduced to sleazy PI Nick Archer. He is scraping a living snooping on the possibly adulterous trophy wife of a millionaire businessman, but he is also schtupping her behind his client’s back. When the client is murdered and his now prime suspect wife pleads with Archer to clear her name, thus revealing herself to be a femme fatale, it looks like we’re still in familiar territory. Thereafter, however, the story takes a series of satisfying detours from the traditional noir narrative before reaching a pleasingly surprising denouement.

All of this the work of Brooklyn-based writer Eric Skillman and Phillipines-based manga artist Jhomar Soriano, a pair of relative new talents worth keeping an eye on. PS: fans of Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s crime opus 100 Bullets might recognise some similarity of style. There’s even a reference to that series’ Minutemen on the final page.

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