Review: ‘Moonshine’ #1

Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Eduardo Risso

moonshine_01So what happens when coupla fellers like Brian Azzarello an’ Eduardo Risso who’re great at tellin’ crime stories decide to tell ‘nother one set up in th’ mountains of West By God back in the prohibition days? An’ intr’duce monsters into th’ mix?

You get the moody, atmospheric, hard-boiled tale of Lou Pirlo, sent to West Virginia by Joe “The Boss” Masseira to talk ol’ Hiram Holt into buying his operation and taking it to the big city. But Holt may not want a piece of that. Because there’s something more going on at Holt’s place than just making moonshine. And Prilo’s not sure he likes what he sees.

All sorts of praise has been lauded on the duo’s most well-known collaboration, 100 Bullets, and rightly so. A slew of pulp and noir comics hit the market as a result of Azzarello and Risso putting out something so damn good that it inspired that genre resurgence. It’s interesting, then, to see the team known for the most hard-boiled stories since Frank Miller’s Sin City take another run at it but freshen it up with a bent of horror. Azzarello’s knack for local dialects and mannerisms hasn’t lost a step with a sometimes-too-accurate portrayal of the mountaineers encountered by Pirlo.

Where Azzarello somewhat falters is the characterization of Pirlo himself. Pirlo is every wanna-be big time gangster you’ve seen before. There’s a possibility that we see more of what makes him tick later on, but for now he’s a upper-level henchman looking for his big chance at a big score. Not really uncharted territory. That said, it’s what happens around Pirlo that makes the book so fascinating.

Risso is in fine form here, detailing woods and small towns with as much detail as he does faces and expressions. Whereas the (lack of) characterization is discussed in the writing of the principal character, Risso gives Pirlo some great body language to cover up that shortfall. In addition, his handling of Hiram Holt is masterful in detailing the menacing proprietor. The bleak colors only add to the feel of dread that permeates this book.

Moonshine is off to a mostly great start so far. Hopefully we get to see more of some of these characters made more real soon, but we have some promise of that come the end of this issue. Azzarello and Risso are off to a mostly strong start with 4 out of 5 Bloody Badges for the beginning of what should be another excellent tale from them.

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Michael Melchor has covered pop culture in all its forms for several publications and websites, including BackStage Pass magazine, 411Mania.com, and Examiner.com. He's been an avid comics reader since Barry Allen was first put on trial for the death of Professor Zoom. He's also been an avid wrestling fan since Dusty Rhodes beat Harley Race for the NWA World Championship. He now brings his fandom of comics, music, and wrestling to PanelsOnPages.com.

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