Brian Azzarello Critic's Choice Free Recommended

When: Fri., Aug. 21, 6-11 p.m. 2009

Release party for Azzarello's new graphic novel, Filthy Rich. Cocktails at 8 PM. You expect noir from graphic novelist Brian Azzarello, best known for his 100 Bullets series, and noir is what he delivers. Filthy Rich (Vertigo) hits all the marks: You got your down-on-his-luck, morally dubious antihero with a penchant for violence. Your yummy dame who keeps her heart chilly by parading across the page in insufficiently thermal lingerie. Your mousy good woman, blustery big shot, and assorted sleazebags and fools. The whole thing is doused with blood and sex and dialogue that Azzarello must've rubbed in something before he hard-boiled it. ("Say Pup, you ever have that feeling that life . . . was done shitting on you?" "No . . . but I feel sorry for guys that do . . . 'cause they lost track a' where the shit's really comin' from.") True, illustrator Victor Santos draws faces that look like they haven't quite settled into the characters' skulls--but if you can't do stylish, ugly is a decent second best, and it's hard not to be charmed by the enthusiasm with which he ladles on the ominous black-and-white effects. Azzarello and Santos want so damn bad to be James Thompson and/or Robert Mitchum that you feel like applauding when they come across with the inevitable double-cross-by-femme-fatale. --Noah Berlatsky

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