Reviewer: Eden Zacarias
Publisher: Vertigo Crime (DC Comics)
Writer: Simon Oliver
Artist: Jason Latour
Genre: Graphic Novel (Hardcover)
MSRP: $19.99 U.S.
Release Date: Available Now
Having inherited my love for classic film noir movies of yesteryear from my father and a box filled with old crime comics from my grandfather, Vertigo’s Vertigo Crime line has been a favorite for a long while now and, while past releases had touches of classic noir, it is releases like Noche Roja that was made for Vertigo Crime so those of us who love their crime comics as black as their coffee will not be disappointed in the very least.
Noche Roja, you see, draws its inspiration from the gruesome murders of women living in Juarez, Mexico. With so many women missing and found dead, the city has earned a most unflattering reputation and has brought to light something everyone already knows … politicians and criminals walk hand-in-hand while nothing is done for the victims. Oh, Simon Oliver tells us a tale that rings true, alright.
We meet Jack Cohen, an ex-private investigator who currently sells home security devices, who is trying hard to push aside an incident from his past that still haunts him. Then, like most classic crime stories, in walks a beautiful woman by the name of Paloma Flores with a proposal that will reopen the old wounds of said past incident that took place in Mexico.
You see, Paloma runs a woman’s aid agency south of the border protecting women’s rights and the disappearance of a factory worker in the border town is a cause for alarm since the bodies of six other women working the same factory have been found in a state of mutilation. She asks Jack to accompany her to Mexico and find out who is behind the murders. While Jack swore he wouldn’t return to Mexico, he accepts it anyway merely because Jack Cohen might have turned his back on his past but he is still noble.
Traveling with Paloma to the border town on the other side, Jack discovers that the countries bad elements still run the show. With a political candidate that Jack knows to have a shady past going up against another candidate that smells of corruption, Jack can see that this won’t be a simple job. As Paloma and Jack start asking questions about the missing girl, a band of thugs called Los Juniors try to forcefully get them out of their barrio. On top of that, they’re being trailed by a white van.
Meanwhile, Paloma tries to get women from the factory to attend her meeting to talk about the working conditions of the factory while Jack decides to shift his investigation to the factory as well … particularly the men in charge. Jack manages to trick his way into the factory to meet the factory manager who is a sleazy individual that Jack feels is just a small part of something more crooked.
Then Jack meets a familiar face that is the currently the Mayor of the city who forces Jack to face his past. It is through Mayor Hank that we learn more about Jack’s past and his connection to an old acquaintance that works for Mayor Hank’s political rival as well as the murder of Jack’s reporter friend. It becomes painfully clear that Mayor Hank as well as other interested parties want Jack out of Mexico and to show him they mean business they take drastic measures that convince both Jack and Paloma that they cannot win this fight.
Oh, but then again a friend of Jack’s makes a whopper of a discovery that sends both Jack and Paloma back into enemy territory for a final confrontation that will not fail to surprise. As I said in the beginning, Simon Oliver tells a story that rings true and he tells it with style that is pure pulpy flare that it feels like a classic crime tale. Even the dialogue has a perfect film noir flavor that is unmistakable and that’s a very good thing for the Vertigo Crime line. Then there’s Jason Latour’s art with its dark tones that sets the mood perfectly, which, if you picked up SCALPED, he does so masterfully.
Living up to the Vertigo Crime label, Noche Roja is everything you can ask for in a crime noir comic. Written with the right gritty touch that you would expect from Simon Oliver and drawn to classic crime fashion by Jason Latour, this graphic novel is what crime fans have been asking for since Vertigo introduced us to this line. Consider this a Must Have for true noir fans or those who enjoy a compelling story well worth reading.
COMIC REVOLUTION RATING BREAKDOWN
Haunted by an event that happened a long time ago south of the border, Jack Cohen is brought back to Mexican soil when a women’s rights aid worker named Paloma convinces him to look into the case of a missing factory worker in a city where women are turning up dead. Once on the other side, though, Jack and Paloma find corruption and the truth.
Jason Latour makes this modern noir tale look really good in black and white and opts for an even darker tone that rings true to the crime genre.
If Vertigo is looking for the right book that should be used as an example of what a Vertigo Crime book should look like then that book should be Noche Roja. It’s a fitting crime noir story that does not disappoint in any way and trust me when I say that it is a book worthy of being on your shelf.
Review copy provided by Vertigo Crime (DC Comics)