February 5, 2004 Meeting

Torso
by Brian Michael Bendis & Marc Andreyko

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Following our biggest meeting ever (to discuss Sgt. Rock: Between Hell and a Hard Place), the Heroes and Dragons Comic Club turns its attention to the genre of crime comics.

Like horror comics, crime comics were nearly wiped out by the rise of the Comics Code Authority in the 1950s.  The genre was noticeably absent from American comics for decades so long that a generation of comics readers came to associate "crime story" with film noir or gritty television dramas instead of titles like Police Comics and Crime Must Pay the Penalty.

But, like horror, crime eventually returned to the comic books.  Torso, published by Caliber Comics in early 1998, was one of the first commercially successful crime comics since the Golden Age.  For many readers, Torso also marked the arrival of one of the 21st Century's first superstar comics writers, Brian Michael Bendis.

Bendis and co-writer Marc Andreyko's tale straddles the 40-year gap between 1956 (the year Crime Must Pay the Penalty was cancelled) and 1998 with deft attention to the Golden Age and the modern era of comics story-telling.  Torso relies on tried-and-true crime conventions, and its central narrative is one of legendary G-man Eliot Ness, "based on a true-life story" from his post-gangbusting career in the 1930s.  In theory, it's the kind of story that would've found a perfect home in the lurid EC comics of 1955 except that the "true-life" element is a little too lurid, a little too grisly for even those controversial comics.  Ness's investigation involves dismembered and decapitated torsos that periodically wash ashore on the banks of Lake Erie sound in Cleveland's Kingsbury Run district.

In real life, the "Torso Murders" were never solved.  Their perpetrator became America's first documented serial killer, unknowing ancestor to 20th Century boogeymen Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and even the fictional Hannibal Lecter.  But in Bendis's graphic novel, two-fisted crime veteran Eliot Ness comes face to face with the real killer providing readers with a seamless (if not easy) transition from the crime comics of the '50s to the new crime comics of the 21st Century.

RESOURCES

Torso is available now, with a retail price of $24.95.
($19.96 when you show your HDCC membership card at the counter!)

H&D Comic Club will meet to discuss Torso at 7:30pm on Thursday, February 5.  If you're not familiar with Comic Club, this is a great chance to meet our members and learn all about the program.  If you decide to join, there's a $20 per year membership fee, which also entitles you to a year-round 20% discount on graphic novels.

REMEMBER:
Comic Club members save 20% on all graphic novel purchases at H&D!

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