Written by Mario Candelaria, with art by Scott Ewen, Corktown #1 from Alterna Comics combines the familiar with the compelling for a supernatural murder mystery set in Detroit.
The only explanation police and medical personnel have been able to land on is animal attacks, but Torrie is all too aware of who, or more accurately what, is behind the recent string of deaths in the area. Cold opening on a vampire attack, and featuring a strong female protagonist, issue one’s parallels to a certain slayer are immediate, pleasant company. The series approaches the subject of vampires as a Law & Order style murder investigation. Torrie is also set apart from Buffy by being a vampire victim. Unable to communicate with anyone living, including her old partner, Miles, Torrie’s ghost is a former cop stuck in the frustrating position of not being able to share the information she’s learned. Buffy always had her Scooby gang to help. Torrie’s ghost no longer has any connection with her peers.
This isolation gets broken up temporarily whenever the vampire she is tracking takes another kill. She then becomes the gatekeeper for new ghost victims to comprehend what’s happened to them. Bringing in an outsider who needs to be explained all the rules has always been a go-to technique in storytelling. It creates a natural scenario for unleashing necessary explication. No less effective a device here, it’s especially thought-provoking when looked at from the perspective of Torrie trying to recreate her former job’s partner dynamics from beyond the grave.
The issue’s lettering by Zakk Saam, specifically the choice to place Torrie and other ghosts’ dialogue in a pale grey hue, is a great way of marking who is alive. The stark white coloring of many of the panels can be hard on the eyes and make certain aspects difficult to distinguish without additional shading. At one point a character turning on his flashlight was necessary to indicate it was night time. The line drawings themselves are sharp, with hardened faces that fit right into the hardboiled noir genre and gel with dialogue that make each detective their own individual (key for any successful crime drama). Even the abandoned building main set has its own character.
There’s definitely room for the story to escalate in future issues (the focus here is on one vampire but Torrie tells us there are others). More insight into Torrie’s past life, particularly her relationship with Miles, seems impending and if you’re wondering why she hasn’t turned, or moved on yet, it’s not quite that simple. The answers start in this issue but are designed for follow-up and elaboration.
Corktown #1 feels like watching an episode of TV in the best ways possible. Part Buffy, part Law and Order, and part its own gritty animal, to use a corny pun, this issue brings bite to two genres that have been done numerous times before.
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