By Dustin Cabeal
I’ll be up front with you, Smoketown is about trying to get away with murder. Plain and simple. That is why you’re likely to be drawn to reading it because, with stories like Smoketown, you want to see if they’ll get away with it.
The catch is there’s not a lot I can describe or details I can go into for my review. We meet Jen after she’s killed her abusive husband. She’s bruised and bloody herself and suffering from broken ribs. All Jen knows is that getting away with murder is next to impossible, but that she’s about to try. Even though self-defense would hold up in court, but for the sake of the story, she has to try. The rest of the issue is a series of events in which there’s the potential of Jen being caught. That’s where the real intrigue of the comic comes from because the art is great at misdirecting you.
I wish I could go into more detail about one scene towards the end, but then it would be ruined for anyone that’s interested in reading this comic now. Essentially what seems like a normal event that would lead to Jen being caught, is flipped upside down. It was very clever, and a lot of the success came from the art because the panels layouts are carefully chosen to work towards the reveal at the end. Continuing with the art for a moment, it’s clean, detailed and maintains a consistent style throughout. There were some things with Jen’s hair that stood out to me, it changed length at one point and never looked wet while in the rain, but other than that the art is solid.
The writing is good, but there’s too much narration at times. We get a lot of insight into Jen’s thoughts, but never when there’s a chance of her getting caught. All the sudden we have no idea what she’s thinking. It’s almost as if she’s narrating from the future while looking back on her life. It’s decent narration, but it’s never deep enough to make you want more. Smoketown’s dialogue is believable but sparse. This is intentional because Jen is in the process of getting rid of a damn body and doesn’t particularly want to chat it up with people.
I will say that you have to read all the way until the end of the issue to be interested in reading the next. While the “almost gotchas” are entertaining, there’s not a deep fear of Jen getting caught because it’s the first issue. I’ll be back for more, but it needs to rely on the art more or provide more insight with the narration to truly hook me on this series.