Near Death is a crime noir drama that almost comes across as a mixture of Criminal and Incorruptible, but manages to find a middle ground of its own. The issue begins with the main character Markham on his way to a doctor after being shot. In typical crime story outline, the doctor is a veterinarian and she patches him up, but not before he dies first. He finds himself in a dessert area and is approached by a man with a bullet wound in his head. Markham recognizes him as the first person he ever killed. They have a conversation and Markham says that he would do things different had he known it would turn out this way. Well he gets a second chance to tip the scales and is sent back to his body. He recovers and thinks of what he wants to do know to tip the scales and the first thing is to fix the last job he was on. Markham is a hit man for some well organized crime syndicate. When he goes to get the job back, he finds out that it’s been given to someone else. He follows the other hit-man, who he knows, and finds him about to kill a woman in witness relocation. He kills the other hit-man and then sends the woman away with a large chunk of money and thus erases her from the system. No more cops or criminals.
The story was good, it had some generic rough spots that I don’t personal think were needed, but I can see the larger audience needing those elements in order to grab on to the tale. The ending, the true ending not where my review stops, was a bit cheesy and became very unbelievable. With the exception of the afterlife scene, the entire book is very much grounded in reality. Nothing is too far-fetched and you can distain belief long enough to enjoy the book, but the ending came across as ridiculous but still a very strong story from Jay Faerber. Faeber has a strong narration throughout the story and does a good job of giving each character enough personality that they come across believable.
On the art side of things new comer Simone Guglielmini is a very strong talent. He nails the crime noir feel the series has and again it’s very reminiscent of Sean Phillips style on Criminal. Not that Guglielmini is copying Phillips style; no he does a good job of making the crime noir genre his own. Even if you don't enjoy the story or get much out of it, Guglielmini's art is worth the price of admission alone.
If you’re looking for more crime noir, which seems to have settled down as of late, then check out Near Death this week. It’s a solid entry into the genre and this first issue is interesting enough that it marks the start of a good series. I doubt there will be another huge resurgence from this books launch, but it’s good to see others continue to work in the genre comics.
Publisher: Image Comics