‘The Names,’ billed as “The Wolf of Wall Street meets Kill Bill,” is a radical thriller that’s both ruthlessly impassioned and viciously ruckus. It’s also cliffhanger city. The last page doesn’t come close to alleviating the built-up tension from 22-pages of sizzling mystery and bloody action…it only intensifies it. The juxtaposition of the widowed Katya and her stepson Philip really shines in issue two, adding the depth of a character study into the fast-paced, gruesome mixture.
WRITTEN BY: Peter Milligan
ART BY: Leandro Fernandez
PUBLISHER: Vertigo Comics
RELEASE: October 1, 2014
Reviewed By Bree Odgen
Issue two takes us international as Katya begins the hunt for clues that her late husband, Walker, sent her premortem (only to be useful postmortem). Don’t you worry, the international bashing of a man’s skull until he sings like a canary looks a lot like it does in America. And as with last issue’s beat-down, Katya loses her suspect—right before the critical information is revealed—to some kind of mysterious stroke that appears to be manufactured by The Names to silence the squeals of desperate men. But it’s Philip who puts this together because… it takes two (in this case) to make a thing go right. While Katya is the muscle, the fight, and the pure, unadulterated revenge, Philip is the brains; the Beautiful Mind, if you will. But together they make a deadly intelligent team. And although they dislike each other, on a level not quite understandable to the reader just yet, they share a deep love for Walker and will both cross any line to avenge his death.
Meanwhile, The Surgeon is causing terror of his own accord. He’s reminiscent of The Joker on a high dosage of PCP. He’s now got the cops under his scalpel and therefore anything that comes of their investigation is compromised. With the power of The Names behind him, his razor sharp scalpel, and his psychopathic nature, not a whole lot can stand in his way. Basically he’s an insanely powerful loose cannon and those are terrifying…truly, the scariest type of villain. Not to mention it’s beginning to look like his agenda might split from that of The Names, and then he’s not a loose cannon anymore but a D-40 shooting through the air straight for Katya and Philip. While The Names seem sure that Katya won’t become a problem, The Surgeon sees the situation for what it is and is poised to act.
‘The Names’ is insanely fast-paced, infectious as hell, and a shit ton of entertainment. The dynamics between the characters are incredible, and the only thing that rivals the perfect mystery that’s been set up to slowly unfold is the fire blazing inside Katya. As she follows Walker’s scavenger hunt for clues, she kills who needs to be killed and doesn’t look back. My personal favorite part of the series is the tenuous relationship between Katya and Philip. It’s either going to blossom into something kickass or implode in a mess of batshit futility. This comic is a keeper. It’s intelligent, highly stylized crime fiction with a deadly sexy broad and dangerous curves ahead.
Bree Ogden is a literary agent at D4EO Literary Agency, a judge for the Ghastly Awards, and the managing editor of the macabre children’s magazine Underneath the Juniper Tree, which she co-founded in 2011 with artist Rebekah Joy Plett. When she’s not watching horror films, reading comics, hiding out at the Pacific Science Center, or killing off her bee colonies, she teaches graphic novel scripting at LitReactor.com. Twitter: @breeogden