If writer Jay Faerber’s goal was to make Near Death the greatest comic book tribute to classic TV crime dramas like The Rockford Files and Magnum, P.I., then he’s succeeded on every level. The book takes the traditional world of hardboiled crime and packs it with enough high speed chases, double-crosses, gun fights and damsels in distress to leave readers clamoring for more. Read on for the skinny…
Near Death is the story of Markham, a hit man for hire that gets a glimpse of the hell that awaits him in the afterlife following a near-fatal gunshot. Having seen hell, Markham is determined to avoid his grim fate, and he sets out on a path for redemption. For every life he’s taken, he needs to balance the scales by saving another.
Faerber has done a wonderful job making Markham a lead character that readers want to root for. Despite his morally reprehensible past, Markham is the type of character that can throw a knockout punch, kiss the girl and charm his way into readers hearts. The series so far has stuck to a one and done format with each issue telling a complete story, but I’d love to see the series delve into longer stories as the series progresses.
Artist Simone Guglielmini has a classic style that brings to mind the likes of José González (Vampirella) and the old EC Comics Crime books. Guglielmini has a great grasp on storytelling and expertly sets the mood for every situation Markham finds himself in. In this issue, Guglielmini unleashes a stunning double page spread of four panels depicting Markham’s carnage involving a high speed chase, exploding car, hand to hand combat and the hail of gunfire that ensues.
Faerber and Guglielmini are infusing new life into the crime genre with Near Death, and this should be essential reading for anyone that is a fan of Criminal, Stray Bullets or 100 Bullets. The trade of volume 1, which collects the first five issues of this series for $9.99, is available now, or you can start with issue #6 as it’s the beginning of a new story arc and a great jumping on point for new readers. There is no excuse for fans of the crime noir genre not to be picking this up.