A seedy, dirty city. A stoic detective. A mystery beyond imagination. The Kickstarter backed “Cosmic Detective” is one of the latest works from comics legends Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, and David Rubín. Self published to allow them total creative freedom, this original graphic novel is one of the most interesting and sought after side projects in the comic book industry.
Written by Jeff Lemire & Matt Kindt
Illustrated, Colored, & Lettered by David Rubín
In a dark and grimy city, an unnamed detective gets called to a local murder, something unlikely and pretty unbelievable has occurred which sends him on a path of layered clues that will not only blow this case wide open, but his entire life. Writers Jeff Lemire (“Sweet Tooth,” “Black Hammer”) and Matt Kindt (“Mind MGMT,” “Wolverine and the X-Men”), along with artist David Rubín (“Rumble,” “Robocop: Citizens Arrest”) have crafted a cosmic cyberpunk noir that will turn everything The Detective knows upside down.
The brain child of Lemire and Kindt, “Cosmic Detective” was produced through a Kickstarter campaign to allow the writers total creative control and freedom over the final product. While this comic isn’t unlike something you’d be able to get through a publisher like Dark Horse or Image Comics, it is presented in a gorgeous over-sized 9″ x 12″ hardcover format with an attached ribbon bookmark, gilded page edges, art print, and massive sketchbook section. For most backers it also came with a digital copy, as well as a pack of playing cards with original art by Rubín. Nearly half a decade in the making, “Cosmic Detective” didn’t see the launch of its campaign until May of 2020, and between Covid delays and the fact that all involved in its creation work on many other projects under the major publishers, the final product finally started rolling out in August of this year. And the wait has been worth it.
One of the most original, original graphic novels being printed in 2022, Lemire and Kindt have brought a fantastical mystery that plays with ideas and tropes seen throughout science fiction and fantasy literature, and comic book specific, history. A wild blend of Blade Runner, Frank Miller’s “Hard-Boiled,” and the many works of Jack Kirby (the book is dedicated to him), but most notably his runs on “New Gods” and “Fourth World,” “Cosmic Detective is indebted to much, but also unlike almost anything hitting comic stands currently.
Following the noir mystery format in its purest form while mixing in the fantastical, this OGN follows The Detective” as he must solve the murder of a [REDACTED]. The more information and clues he uncovers, the more unclear everything around him becomes. This case pulls him into his familiar haunts, while also forcing him to ask uncomfortable questions and prod around where he normally would not. Even his closest confidants, allies, and overseers either can’t or won’t help him, even pointing him in directions away from the case. As the mystery begins to unravel, so too does the Detective’s life. It is a fascinating and perplexing chase and as he goes on a journey through space and time.
Pulling some of its style from quite a few cyberpunk and tech-noirs of the past, “Cosmic Detective” repeatedly blurs the line between advanced technology and real magic, a near future Earth that blends high tech and 1950s design, and worlds unlike anything humanity has ever experienced. The script by Lemire and Kindt speaks its own language. While it is easy to follow and the characters speak clearly. There is an element of keeping the reader at arms length, not letting us completely into this universe, while allowing us to be fully immersed in its bizarre design that feels both like our own world while repeatedly showing us that it isn’t. The writing is both fascinating and frustrating, in the right ways. It leads you along, and pushes you away. You are following the clues along with the detective, but when he hits a brick wall, you do too. While there were moments and elements where I started to have an inkling on how some the story may play out by the end, I was never spoiled on how it would all turn out. It is a mystery in the purest sense and leads its characters in directions that are wholly unexpected for both them and the reader.
Matching Lemire and Kindt’s multi-faceted script every step of the way, and even taking its most simple components and elevating them to new and dazzling heights, is Rubín’s artwork. Pulling triple duty on this book David Rubín draws, colors, and letters this massive and gorgeous book. Taking all of the influences clearly within the writing his illustrations miraculously blend that old school detective yarn with a cosmic adventure that is as harrowing as it is beautiful. There is realism in the grit, but at no point does the art in this book feel realistic. It does, however, feel familiar and relatable. We understand the world on display as it so closely matches our own, even when shocking and incredible elements are on display. The magic and technology of this book rip everything apart, twist it around, and leave us with sights that both bring about amazement and discomfort. Even at its most wonderful, “Cosmic Detective” is always unsettling as it races towards its final page. We know, even if the Detective doesn’t, that his poking and prodding will only lead to unwanted revelations, even if his desired outcome is still achieved. It never feels like there can be peace or a neatly wrapped up case by the turn of the final page.
Any fan of cyberpunk or cosmic storylines from either the Marvel or DC universes will absolutely find something to enjoy in this graphic novel. As of this publishing, “Cosmic Detective” is only available through the Kickstarter campaign or from re-sellers through eBay or similar sites. The version released through Kickstarter is an exclusive limited edition strictly for backers of the project, but a wide release version will eventually be hitting shelves anywhere comics are sold, so keep an eye out because you will not want to miss this book.