Group Review: The White Suits #1

Each of the participating writers/reviews of Comic Bastards will give the issue a score of: Buy, Borrow or Pass along with a short reason for the score. Here’s a blurb about the issue from Dark Horse Comics before we begin: Mysterious killers dressed in white, they savaged the Cold War Russian underworld—then disappeared. Now they have resurfaced in New York, leaving a trail of dead mobsters. In this bloody wake, an amnesiac and an FBI agent search for the answer to a single question: Who are the White Suits?

Steve: BUY

It is a rare thing for a book to completely grab your attention from the first page. Obviously that’s the aim, but it is so frustratingly often unreached. Luckily, White Suits #1, with its “bleached noir” visual style and cadence, is one such book that grabbed me - somewhat inappropriately - from the word “go.”

This urban legend crime story about a small unit of utterly amoral basses is fast, turbulent and bloody, with thematic shades of 100 Bullets, though admittedly not as resounding and without as measured or in-depth an approach. In fact, the issue sometimes moves too quickly, but I’m guessing that’s because it first appeared serially in Dark Horse Presents, which makes me think it might read better altogether as a trade.

Still, White Suits’ choppy and restless storytelling style is matched well with its black and white color scheme, offset as it is by an aggressive flirtation of red. It allows the warped slash of the book’s art to really pop, and whenever color does rear its head, it either glows like an alarm or pools like murder. Like I said, this might read better when it’s all collected in trade, but I’d say at least pick up the first issue, just to see what happens when noir goes pale.

Adam: PASS

I really wanted to like The White Suits, but I ended up not caring for it all that much.  Basically all I got out of it was the little blurb at the beginning of the issue but with some art (great art, actually).  I felt like I had whiplash after reading the issue, there was just too much going on and none of it minus the ending was memorable to me.  In the back of the issue it says “either you’ve been slapped silly and liked it, or you’re shivering in a fetal position, hoping the bad things will go away and stop hurting you.”  I do feel like I was slapped silly because of the almost ADD-like perspective changes in the story, but I can’t say I liked it.  The art was great though-it gave the book a filthy, dirty, dark feel that was immersive.  I’ll definitely give this series a fair shot because I think it’ll get better from here and the art is gorgeous, but I definitely can’t recommend buying this first issue.

The White Suits #1 Cover

Samantha: BUY

Dark Horse gives us a new comic this week, and I can’t exactly put on a finger on way I was so intrigued with this. I think maybe it was just all the good elements adding up to be an all-around pleasant read. First, the book is visually amazing. The whole comic is black, white, and red. I love when comics are black and white with pops of color at dramatic moments. I also loved the layering the comic does with the panels. The issue reads as a collage of pictures not a sequence of panels.

Next comes the story. Now I hope that the series can continue into something interesting and not just a spy drama with the typical girl and guy duo taking down the big guys. But for the first issue, we see more of illusive White Suits. We have no idea what these guys and gals are here to do. We do know that they have been around since the Cold War though. And no one knew what they were doing there either. I actually would love for the series to do some flashbacks to the Cold War to help us understand the dudes better. My hope is that we can focus on the group and see what these guys are all about. I have a feeling it will be pretty interesting. Probably a play with communism or socialism.  Like me I think you will enjoy the comic, so definitely “Buy” this issue for an all-around entertaining treat this week.

Dustin: BUY

I remember being taken away by this series just from the preview. It wasn’t so much the story which is admittedly on the predictable side, but more so the artwork. Great art can elevate the simplest of stories to the next level. I mean really this story is your paint by number revenge story (very Kill Bill at times), but with amnesia thrown in for good measure. I still enjoyed it, but it was ripe with influences.

The art though… damn. Toby Cypress blew me away. His page breakdowns where magical and while I can see some people getting lost in them… just take your time. So often readers want to keep pace with the dialogue and their own habitual reading speed, but here Barbiere and Cypress ask you to slow down and just stare at the page. They ask you to pay attention to that scene with the extreme close up on the eyes and soak in the fact that this character has no soul. His eyes are dead and his actions are deadlier. The art is beautiful.

What adds to that beauty is the coloring. Mostly the book is in black and white, but then there’s this gradient of orange to red that’s used throughout the issue that adds vibrancy to the page. It makes the violence pop and the action flow from panel to panel. It also makes the impact of the white almost a neon haze. This was a fantastic first issue that only left me wanting more.

Score: 3 Buys and a Pass

Writer: Frank J. Barbiere Artist: Toby Cypress Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 2/19/14