This is a weekly column I’m going to try and get going here at Multiversity. In comics, everyone knows the Batman books, the Spider-Man books, and all of the other industry giants. Every once in a while though, a fantastic series or arc comes and goes with little to no fanfare. This is my attempt to get comic readers to pay attention to those books.
Up first is a title that takes place in the Spawn universe that follows detectives Sam and Twitch (support characters from Spawn), from a series called…Sam and Twitch. The arc is titled Udaku, and it was written by a then unheralded Brian Michael Bendis (pre-Marvel, just post-Torso and Jinx) and drawn by Angel Medina. It is a detective book through and through, and it is an incredibly well written noir dripping with grit and grime…just the way I like it.
The first issue finds our titular hero Twitch in a bar drinking alone, recounting the current insane situation that he and his partner Sam are in to a “pretty lady who wanted to listen” after she displayed a little bit of interest. It seems that someone is killing all of the dirty cops and all of the Sangiacomo family, the mobsters that used to run the city, and somehow Sam and Twitch are caught in the middle of all of it. He starts asking questions openly and they form the basis of the arc: Who are the “Tom Wolfe” look alike killers running amok across the city? Who or what is Udaku? Why are Sam and Twitch involved with all of this? All this and more is covered by Bendis within these eight issues, as he slowly but surely reveals exactly what is going on and just how deep the corruption goes within Sam and Twitch’s city.
A lot of people likely know Brian Michael Bendis strictly for his Marvel superhero work. While books like New Avengers, Dark Avengers, Mighty Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man, and the multitudes of other titles the guy has written are entertaining, Bendis reads the best when he’s writing detective books. While Powers gets the most interest from readers looking to expand on their Bendis reading, I’d argue that this book finds Bendis in top form more so. While Powers focuses often more intensely on the procedural aspect, this book has two of the more entertaining and well drawn leads in comics and really focuses on the action side of detective work. This arc is wall-to-wall grit, ominous tones, action scenes, gruesome deaths, shocking twists, and surprising amounts of humor, and really proves to be as entertaining as anything he has ever written (which is saying something).
While some may frown upon Angel Medina’s over exaggerated style of art, it is the McFarlane Productions way, as Medina obviously has cribbed a lot from McFarlane and (especially) Greg Capullo. However, with Bendis on the directors seat, the paneling and layouts are stunning, and really give a constantly flowing feel to scenes as there is never just one thing going on within a page, but multitudes. The paneling often reminds me of something Frank Quitely and Grant Morrison would come up with, and while Medina obviously is not as talented as Quitely, it’s still quite complimentary to say the page schemes are relatively similar. TMP (Todd McFarlane Productions) decision to print this in black and white in trades to accentuate the noir feel was a brilliant decision, as it reads even better than it did originally in issue form.
The only negative about this book is the ultimate explanation of “Udaku” is sort of a non-starter for me, but really this is a book about the journey and about the two lead characters. Sam is the boorish slob with a fierce need for loyalty and justice, while Twitch is the bookish and intelligent one with loneliness in his heart, and Bendis captures these two characters as well as anyone ever has. The fact that Bendis even brings in Spawn into the story successfully (if only for one page) makes you realize this is not your average TMP book. This is the best book TMP has ever produced, and one of my personal favorite books ever written by Bendis. Very highly recommended by yours truly.Continued below