Writer: Brian Azarello
Artist: Eduardo Risso
FC, 32 pgs, $3.99 US
Moonshine could have ended at issue #6. All the plot threads were not neatly tied off, but it was a satisfying final issue to the debut story arc. Moonshine eventually returned for another six issues and when #12 hit it once again felt like the creative team could walk away feeling proud and I could walk away feeling like the story had a conclusion. Again, not everything wrapped up in a bow but some of the best stories don’t have tidy endings so I never sweat the small stuff. And now as of last week, Moonshine is back for another arc and I’m confident I’ll settle in nicely, enjoy the ride, and get back out feeling satisfied.
In Prohibition era America, a New York mob boss sends a hood into the Appalachian mountains to cut a deal with a moonshiner whose booze is a hot ticket in the city’s clubs. The mob boss wants control, see, because the moonshine is cutting into his own booze business. The moonshiner and his clan are just as tough and stubborn as the mob and so, of course, the two groups don’t get along.
And there’s werewolves.
That sounds ridiculous and looking at a slew of online opinions suggests readers have either embraced or completely rejected this genre mash-up. Me, I’m all in, of course, because creators Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso are cool hands at creating big personalities, juggling large casts, and playing within the defined rules of genres even as they upturn the applecart. They created 100 Bullets, a title that took a simple question and turned it into an epic featuring at least a dozen central characters, all damaged and multi-faceted, all racing toward a tragic and inevitable conclusion. 100 Bullets is a character driven crime comic that has not yet been equaled in scope. They also created Spaceman, a hard sci-fi in the guise of a crime tale about a kidnapping. So when I read that Azzarello and Risso were doing a new comic about Prohibition, gangsters and werewolves, I did not hesitate for a second.
Moonshine is populated with tropes of the grittiest crime stories. Tough talk, threats through body language, dangerous dames, tommy gun ambushes, double crosses. It also has werewolf staples like moonlit transformations, the reluctant beast, and the troubled beauty. It also has some elements unique to the creative team: Azzarello’s terse, stripped down dialogue; his irredeemable yet engaging characters; Risso’s character designs with tired, sorrowful (or angry) eyes for the men; full, sinful lips and figures for the women; dark palette for colours; and key scenes that are worthy of hanging on a wall.
Moonshine is pulp. Delicious, nasty pulp. (Chad Boudreau)