Review: Dark Corridor #5

Tommaso continues to impress with Dark Corridor, even in a rare entry in which there may be more story than style. An interesting feature of this book is that it's hard to know who to root for.  I think at this point that I'm pretty much rooting for the dog, and though I am empathetic to varying degrees with the two factions of this comic (the Seven Deadly Daughters, and the freelance mob flunkies Pete and Mia), I also have a hard time cheering on either side.  Usually in a crime comic, you've got some type of criminal justice element involved that draws the moral boundaries, which usually get blurred by the reader's empathy with criminals who are, maybe or maybe not, slightly sympathetic characters.

Here, though, even with the Seven Deadly Daughters functioning as a great revenge story that seems squarely justifiable-- well, they're murderers.  They run people off the road and blow shit up.  Their story is one that has a clear beginning and middle: their parents were murdered by the mob, so they are now hunting down the old pricks who killed their parents.  Framed in that manner, it's hard not to root for them.

Dark-Corridor-#5-1But the interesting thing about Dark Corridor is that by making mafia-adjacent characters like Pete the de facto main characters, we become sympathetic to him as well.  After all, Pete (that we know of) didn't murder any of their parents, and is complicit in violent mafia activities for the same reason that the Daughters are involved in their own criminal schemes: circumstance.  At the same time, we don't want to root for Pete and Mia to succeed in warning the mafia bosses about the Daughters because the Daughters seem to have a pretty airtight grudge.

If that starts to sound like a "vicious circle" to you, then perhaps Tommaso's choice of "Red Circle" for the name of this city makes begins to make sense.  Here, where everybody's got a reason to shed blood, and nobody sees fit to do more than the half-decent thing, the cycle just keeps going.

Tommaso went a little bit lighter with his bag of tricks than usual this issue.  There were no page layouts built around car chase scenes, no splash-page match-cuts, and no arrows directing the reader as to how to consume a page.  Still, Tommaso demonstrates that he puts a lot of thought into how to tell his story effectively on a page without compromising any stylistic choices.  In this issue, Tommaso had to keep the plot moving more than previous ones, and though that left less time for him to indulge in action sequences, it serves to underscore how much of a presence his scenery has.

At one point, we come across a high-ranked mob dude laying in a hammock.  This alone serves to communicate the fact that this dude is fat and happy.  Tommaso, however, always takes the time to design around these figures in such a way that often a single panel is enough to make the reader say, "damn, this dude's got it good."  That same stylish flair makes for a great juxtaposition when we transition to someone's drab log cabin accommodations.

As the two threads of this comic continue to inch ever-so-slightly more towards convergence, Dark Corridor remains a worthwhile jaunt through sequential art, and increasingly becomes more readable for people who aren't just obsessed with page design and pulp.

Score: 4/5

Dark Corridor #5 Writer/Artist: Rich Tommaso Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 12/2/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital