Dark Corridor #1 is manna from comic heaven, and already one of my favorite books at any of the big publishers. No way for me to avoid praising the artist in favor of the writer here: they're the same person! Dark Corridor is an ongoing sort-of-anthology project by writer/artist Rich Tommaso. Currently, Dark Corridor is running two sets of stories in parallel that deal with the same world, but Tommaso will eventually include several different story worlds under the broader banner of Dark Corridor. It's a unique pleasure to see one of the big publishers giving a writer/artist a platform as a writer/artist. The fact that everything Tommaso does in this comic is excellent is more than an added bonus.
First, there's the line work. This is a kind of simple-but-elegant cartooning that you just don't see at big publishers. The character designs are more iconic than intricate, but each person has just enough of a personal touch to make the story easy to follow. Settings and cars have more personality than anything, a welcome hallmark of the kind of pulpy noir feel Tommaso is trying to usher in with this comic.
But there's nothing dark and brooding about this crime story, which has a very peculiar feel because of Tommaso's color work. One brown cityscape is dominated by a sleek green Dodge Challenger, another dotted with a candy red 1950's Chevy pickup. The colors are the real star of nearly every single story page. Though Tommaso's cartooning and knack for visual narratives would carry this comic, the color work gives this series its aforementioned *particular* feel, while also making it successful as a modern comic.
After all, everything about this comic is old school: rotary telephones, mob drama, Chevy Advanced Design trucks, and the lettering. Oh, the lettering. In most modern comics, first-person narration takes place in white, free-floating rectangular captions. In Dark Corridor #1 the narration of our various subjects often takes place in panel-anchored, off-colored captions with their first letters capitalized in a special font. Talk about old school. The careful balance of colors in this series wasn't really practical in comics of yesteryear with a similar aesthetic, and Tommaso takes full advantage of this to signal the reader for shifts in plot and tone with the color palette.
And then, there's the story itself. Mob stories are boring, mostly because the good ones have all been told. Tommaso seems fully aware of this, and bundles a cute little story about criminals in a pulpy, Tarantino-esque tapestry of mysterious mob-killing female assassins.
There's enough personality in these pages that fans of comics who are not particularly drawn to pulp may still enjoy the read. Dark Corridor #1 currently contains enough of a genre jaunt, however, that people shy of crime comics will probably want to stay away from the psuedo-anthology for now. Either way, and independent of genre preference, there is a finely-tuned pictorial narrative machine purring under the covers of this one.