Review: ‘High Crimes’ #1-8

High_Crimes_07-1Writer: Christopher Sebela

Artist: Ibrahim Moustafa

Buy High Crimes, including issue 8 which goes on sale today, on Comixology here for only 99 cents an issue.

At its core, High Crimes is a comic about obsession. Depending on the character, that obsession changes. It’s the obsession to climb or to complete the mission or to simply just survive. All of the character’s obsessions center around one thing; Mount Everest. With a title like High Crimes, it’s harder to get higher than Everest.

The series focuses on Zan Jensen, a disgraced Olympian who finds herself in the line of work of returning the bodies of dead mountain climbers to their families, if the price is right. Things go south when Zan’s partner, Haskell Price, cuts the hand off of the wrong dead body. Sullivan Mars was one of the United States’ top black-ops agents. Then he went AWOL and died while trying to climb Everest. After Mars’ prints are run, the agency he worked for dispatches a crew to hunt him down and they’re coming straight for Zan and Haskell. As the series progresses Zan is on the run with some of Mars’ secrets while Haskell is in the clutches of the Strange Agents. This leads to a race up Everest to retrieve Mars’ body and the rest of the government secrets his body contains.

I’m very glad that I had all eight issues that have been released so far to read in one shot because I can’t remember that last time I wanted to burn through a comic so quickly. I mean that in a good way of course. I didn’t want to rush through the book because I didn’t enjoy it. I wanted to tear through each issue because I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. There’s a sense of urgency to this series that I haven’t come across many times in all of my comics reading over the years. When I finished an issue, I needed to read the next one immediately. The wait between issues 8 and 9 is going to be agonizing, even more so because of where the story was left off.

High Crimes is my first exposure to the art of Ibrahim Moustafa and this book is worth checking out just for him. Marvel and DC should be fighting each other for the chance to have Moustafa on their books. His page layouts are fantastic. Moustafa fits quite a bit of panels into his pages and they never feel cramped. In issue 5, the page size shifts from single page size to double page sized. This happens when Zan gets into some trouble while climbing and it really gets across the scope of the mountain. His action panels look great, but where I think he excels are his facial expressions. Moustafa’s characters act very well. Unless the situation calls for it, you aren’t going to see a lot of characters with blank expressions on their faces. They react to things like real people would. There aren’t many artists who draw expressions as well as Moustafa and even fewer that are better than him.

Christopher Sebela is fairly new to the mainstream comics scene, but he’s got a couple name books under his belt with Captain Marvel at Marvel and Ghost and Alien vs. Predator at Dark Horse. As far as books that I’ve read by Sebela go, this is his best work yet. Sebela has an enthusiasm about this series and its subject matter that really shines through in the scripts. By reading these comics and the essays that accompany each issue, I feel like I’ve learned a ton about Mount Everest.

High Crimes is a superb book that absolutely earned its two Eisner nominations this year for best webcomic and best new series. Sebela and Moustafa have made a thrill-ride of a book. There’s no reason not to try this series when you can get all eight issues for the price of two comics from the big two. As a person that’s not a huge fan of reading comics on a screen, I will absolutely recommend this book. I give the first eight issues of High Crimes 4.5 out of 5 summits. Go out of your way to check this series out.

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Kelly Harrass is a comic shop worker and writer from Milwaukee, WI. You may know him as one of the regular hosts of the PoP!-Cast and the co-host of PCW. Find him on Twitter @comicgeekelly and email him at kharrass@panelsonpages.com

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