Road to Perdition
by Max Allan Collins,
Richard Piers Rayner
(Paradox Press, 2002)

Hollywood has picked up another comic book property and made it a hot item in the comic world. I'm referring to Road to Perdition by writer Max Allan Collins and artist Richard Piers Rayner. I haven't seen the movie, but now that I have the inspiration, it doesn't really matter. It's a pretty straightforward but entertaining gangster-gets-even tale, but with a great format.

Road to Perdition is done the way I wish ALL comics were done; in one big, whopping, thick volume; some would call it the "Japanese digest" format. Whatever. All I know is that I would not have been able to read this book in monthly pamphlet form. It's just too enjoyable, mostly due to the artwork, which I'll get to in a moment.

Collins' characterization and plot development are adequate for the purpose, which is creating sympathy for someone who really shouldn't get it. Michael O'Sullivan is one of the most feared mob hit men alive, responsible for many brutal slayings, all for the sake of a mobster's firm grasp on the criminal world. But when his wife and one of his sons are murdered by his boss's son, true allegiances come to the surface, and O'Sullivan declares all-out war on the John Looney crime family, with his remaining son in tow.

It's a simple premise, but one that's hard to turn away from, nonetheless. Rayner's artwork is nothing short of amazing. Though his line work is more coarse in most panels, while others have a softer, more detailed appearance (I'm not sure of the reason for the distinction), they all reflect a very realistic style. Richard Rayner is yet another artist who proves that comics are not the stepchild of modern art; rather, they may, in fact, contain some of it's finest examples.

- Rambles
written by Mark Allen
published 1 March 2003

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