Reviewed By: Ian Mintz
Publisher: Vertigo Crime (DC Comics)
Writer: Matteo Casali
Artist: Kristian Donaldson, Lee Bermejo (Cover)
Colorist: None (Black and White)
Genre: Graphic Novel (Hardcover)
MSRP: $19.99 USA
Release Date: August 23, 2011
In the long history of this world, there is no shortage of explosive bursts of violence that are always the same no matter what era, location or participants. There’s always a motive behind killing whether it’s politics, religion or money and – as we can see from 99 Days – a young black LAPD Detective will find himself working on a case that will bring him back to a world of violence that is all too familiar to him.
Detective Antoine Davis Boyd is haunted by his dreams of a boy in Rwanda about to commit an atrocious act that no child should make and it is clear that Boyd cannot shake the image from his mind. Still, he’s the kind of man that pushes on despite the nightmares. Then again, he is a Detective in Los Angeles and there’s no shortage of nightmares in the city of angels. Boyd and his sexy Latin partner, Valeria Torres, are called to a home in South Central that is the scene of the gruesome murder a young woman.
Boyd quickly identifies the weapon used to hack the poor woman to death and that fact opens up psychological wounds in the man as bits of his childhood begins to surface little by little. The murder of this woman in South Central quickly becomes big news and the killer is now being dubbed as the “Machete Murderer” as both Torres and Boyd are given the job to bring the killer to justice.
The trouble is that their first good lead has Los Angeles’ two rival black gangs (the Bloods and the Crips) rekindling the flame that would have them fighting each another again. You see, the victim had an amorous relationship with a member of the Bloods behind the back of one of the Crips’ leader, Caliphano. They talk to the Blood and it’s Boyd’s opinion that the young gangster had nothing to do with the killing. In fact, they go see Caliphano as well and it’s clear that he didn’t kill her either.
Meanwhile, the young Detective finds that he is slowly losing control … a fact that troubles his partner who is very patient with him. Boyd finds himself haunted by his past in 1994 Rwanda as he watched is family day by his own Hutu people. He is suddenly turned into a child soldier as he is pushed into slaughtering Tutsi men, women and children. One ghost continuously haunts him and that is of a boy killed by a machete, hence one of the reasons he recognizes what that blade is capable of doing to a human body.
When a second body surfaces, the detectives look into the murder of a drug dealer that leads them to a suspect that Boyd begins to threaten. It’s becoming clear to Torres that something is eating away at her partner who she not only respects but also has strong feelings for the man despite the fact that she’s married and has children.
Throughout the course of the investigation, however, both detectives learn that the housing market in South Central is turning a profit now that the Machete Killer has scared off a few folks living in the area. It’s the slimy rich owner of Valiant Ltd. who is making a killing off of the murders as well as the gang violence that is becoming so out of control that there are riots in the streets and deaths on both sides as well as the police department.
Yet there is a line that the murderer and the greedy real estate mogul have crossed in Detective Boyd’s mind and the case is beginning to change him. Even when he does catch up to the killer, his past makes him see no difference between what went on in Rwanda and what is going on now in Los Angeles. The painful thing is that just like more people cared about the suicide of Kurt Cobain than the genocide in Rwanda, nobody is caring that black people are killing black people thanks to somebody else’s personal agenda.
Oh, there’s more to the mystery but the real shocker is what happens in the end as we witness the change in the young detective. We witness more of his past and the things he was most ashamed of as he followed orders. Matteo Casali tells two intersecting stories that come together in a startling manner and Kristian Donaldson compliments the story with his expressive artwork.
What we have in 99 Days is a crime story that paints a very interesting picture of two horrifying days that makes a man sees no difference between these events. Casali and Donaldson tell a very compelling story of a man whose past has finally caught up with him as he descends further into dark where the memories that haunt him make him see that the evil that men do never really changes. You really should buy this book, crime comic fans.
COMIC REVOLUTION RATING BREAKDOWN
When the body of a black woman in South Central, Los Angeles is discovered all hacked up, it’s Detective Antoine Boyd who recognizes the only type of weapon capable of leaving a body like that. The case suddenly becomes personal for Boyd as his horrific childhood in Rwanda suddenly comes back to haunt him. As the streets of Los Angeles burns in the fire of gang violence, both Boyd and his partner search for the killer and the truth behind these killings.
Kristian Donaldson is an Eisner-nominated artist for a good reason and we can see it in this series, although I personally feel that the black-and-white keeps the art from being more spectacular. Still, this is great stuff and exactly what we can expect from an artist of Donaldson’s caliber.
A gripping crime story with all the right elements that make up a modern noir comic, 99 Days takes us through two horrific worlds of violence that are motivated by the same thing … greed. Watching Detective Davis descend deeper into the darkness will not fail to keep you reading from start to shocking finish. Consider this another Must Have title in the Vertigo Crime series.
Review copy provided by Vertigo Crime (DC Comics)