February 19, 2014

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The White Suits (1 of 4) - Good Guys Don't Always Wear White

Written by Frank Barbiere
Illustrated by Toby Cypress
Dark Horse Comics

Q: What's black and white and red all over?

A: The brutally violent, visually striking new mini-series "The White Suits" from Dark Horse, by Frank Barbiere and Toby Cypress.

There are times when a story just grabs you and makes you take notice. The White Suits is one of those times (in this case,more like grabs you, slices your hand off, and shoots you in the leg). This is the story of a group of feared Cold War-era killers that appear to have returned. It's also the story of an amnesiac man who has a connection to the White Suits, and an FBI agent who is after them. This first issue sets up the characters and their motivations, and it very effectively establishes a gritty, violent noir tone.

The artistic storytelling in this book is striking. The characters have a grimy, almost deliberately ugly look to them, which tells you clearly the sort of world into which you're delving. Most of the book is done in black and white but occasional color (mostly red) is used very effectively to convey emphasis, set a scene, and call attention to a dramatic or gory moment (of which there are many). There's not a lot of dialogue in this book, and it's not needed, as the visual narration tells you all you need to know about what's happening in the story. There are also some full-page panels that you'll want to linger on, because they're almost Steranko-like visual explosions seen through a grindhouse lens.

The book starts with pulpy narration, and we learn that the narrator is our amnesiac, who although he doesn't know who he is, has a certain set of skills such as knowing when he's being followed. This element reminded me a little of the "Bourne" movies (never a bad thing). We then see the White Suits in action and they are stunningly violent and effective. We next see the consequences, as the rest of the criminal element try to figure out how to respond to this new threat. Lastly, we see the amnesiac, as he's been followed by a woman who he confronts. As it turns out, she can more than hold her own against him. More importantly, she can help him figure out the truth about himself.

If you want an engrossing story with blood splatter, mystery, and serious visual punch, then give "The White Suits" a look.