It’s no secret that I’m on the High Crimes ride until the wheels fall off, presumably in a fiery, horrible plummet off the top of the tallest mountain in the world. When I say that I’m a fan, you will know that I am telling the truth. And its issues like this month’s that keep me coming back every time I get that notification from Comixology that there’s a new one waiting to be devoured. Dorje has had enough and leaves Zan on the mountain with nothing but her failures, her Olympic medals, and her need to rescue Haskell from the goons. In traditional Zan style, however, trying to do things right and fix things only serves to dig them deeper into a hole from which her only escape may be a freezing death at the top of Everest. I don’t want to go into much detail, because at this point, I would be giving away events that would be akin to someone walking out of the theater in 1980 from seeing Empire Strikes Back and announcing the queue, “Holy fuck, I can’t believe Darth Vader was Luke’s dad the whole time!” Just read the damn book, and stick around for my critical analysis.
This book has been the traditional noir journey of the person who could not give less of a shit becoming perhaps the only person who cares any more. They take shitty jobs so that they won’t have to care, and then a case comes across the desk that makes them need to care, because otherwise who will? Zan wants to rescue Haskell, who is the guy who’s been essentially blackmailing families to get their loved ones’ bodies back from Everest. Not exactly a sparkling example of humanity, but still--he’s the only one she’s got left. It’s surprisingly effective as an emotional hook in Sebela’s hands, because usually in a noir, you’ll follow for the plot; you have to find out who did it and why. In High Crimes, you pretty much know all that already, but Zan’s character is so compelling that we have to follow her down the hole.
Zan is obsessed with saving other people in this story. At times, it may seem overbearing, but sometimes the only respite for someone who has failed and fallen as hard as Zan is to try to save everyone else, disregarding the fact that if your own life is this fucked up, you probably can’t do much for your buddies. It’s part of the tragedy that we want Zan to overcome her past, and we want her to be better, and she gets stymied at every turn. It’s brilliant storytelling, and it pulls you in every time. Even with an irregular release pattern, when you get a lot of time to forget about things like Mars and his Maguffin body filled with microfiche, you still can’t help but open each new issue and get pulled along to the end, loving every minute.
As always, Moustafa is the king of Everest. This is one of the issues where he gets to be a little bit light on scenic majesty (although there is some; never fear), but he gets to show off how damn good he is at rendering gesture and facial expression. Haskell’s smiles are rueful, resigned to his own death sooner rather than later; Zan is frantic but trying to be hopeful, otherwise she’ll never make it; Dorje makes a tough choice that will be good for everyone in the long run, but it’s gonna hurt like fuck for a little bit. I can’t say enough good things about the art in this series, and I can’t wait until it’s collected in some sort of oversized hardcover and the pages can be admired outside the strictures of GuidedView.
This series is so good that any issue could be your starting point. If you started this month, you’d get everything you need about the story, and you’d be able to enjoy it. The only downside is you’d be missing everything that came before, all the things that fill in this issue and make it another precarious, thrilling step up the mountain towards the end. Let’s hope we all survive it.
Writer: Christopher Sebela Artist: Ibrahim Moustafa Publisher: MonkeyBrain Comics Price: $0.99 Release Date: 11/12/14 Format: Digital