Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pulp-Powered Comics: Femme Noir

Much like Athena Voltaire (a review you will see later this month), Femme Noir started its life as a web comic before transitioning its way to the printed page through the fine folks at Ape Entertainment.

Written by Christopher Mills (Primortals and drawn by the legendary Joe Staton (E-Man and just about every DC hero), “The Dark City Diaries” take us to Port Nocturne, a city dripping with the kind of noir storytelling only found in black and white cinema. But the full color comic somehow catapults that city in to a costumed vigilante’s world with the appearance of the comic’s mysterious namesake and Brother Grim.

One of the key factors in the series is the mystery of Femme Noir herself. No one knows her secret identity, not even the reader. We are given three choices to the character’s real world life, but all or none may be true. It’s certainly not a new concept: it’s been used everywhere from the animated movie Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman to Max Allen Collins’ Wild Dog to the Tangent version of The Joker. But Mills never lets us in on the secret, at least not yet.

Each issue gives a done-in-one that builds on top the mystery of the character even as she fights villains that take the noir elements and push them straight in to pulp, whether it be a jungle woman or an evil robot. All of it seems to fit in place in the slightly strange city of Port Nocturne. It all works incredibly well together, but I don’t want to give away too much of the fun of this book.

Several gorgeous pin-ups ordain the backs of the original issues, though I am unaware if they are included in the collection. As a web comics author, Christopher Mills is easily reachable through his Facebook page or through one of his numerous websites. He even has pages of the web comic version of Femme Noir up at Ape Entertainment’s comic site.

But I digress, this is about an amazing graphic novel, well worth the price of admission. Check it out. Highly Recommended.


Christopher Mills said...

Thanks for the great review!

The pin-ups in the miniseries issues were not included in the trade paperback collection, but that volume includes two additional stories and Joe Staton's original character designs.

Glad you dug the book!

Nick Ahlhelm said...

Good to know, Christopher.

Just out of curiosity, are those stories original to that volume or some of the old Femme Noir webstrips?

Christopher Mills said...

They're not webstrips (although we are planning a collection of those right now). One of the "bonus stories" originally appeared in B&W in an issue of AC Comics' FEMFORCE back around '02, the other appeared in one of Ape Entertainment's FCBD samplers a few years ago.