The beauty of a done-in-one comic book is the creators have a distinct story to tell and can’t waste any time. That’s especially true since comic books have a very specific page count, and you can see the well thought outpacing and plotting in Gerry Duggan and Ron Garney’s excellent Grimm Noir #1. Outside of the clever title I’m sure every writer under the sun wishes they thought up, this is an interesting look at the deep recesses of Benjamin Grimm’s heart while he faces off against a nightmare. Literally.
This is a very pretty, at times disturbing, and visually stunning issue. Ron Garney’s name comes first under storytellers and it’s quite clear he deserves so much credit as far as why this book is so damn memorable (no disrespect to Duggan!). Matt Milla is the color artist, who plays around with the heavy shadows and interesting light sources. You see it from the first page as Ben gets beat down by demons to him waking from his nightmare and the light shines on him from the window. Garney has a way of making the close-ups very absorbing too, and Milla’s use of blue and a bit of white shine makes it all come together nicely. There is also some interesting use of white in a rain scene which is used to convey light and the rain dripping off Grimm and some cops. Nice touch. There’s a lot here to eyeball and enjoy.
As far as the narrative, I’m a sucker for noir and even wrote my college thesis on film noir. Duggan does well with bits of dialogue and word usage to call back to the genre and you see it with Grimm’s trenchcoat. His general mood is perfect for the downtrodden detective types that made the genre famous. That said, this is far less of a noir tale than I expected with that element falling away a quarter of the way into the book.
The rest of the book adds up to an interesting look at Grimm and his past. We get a high caliber villain out of it too and for the most part, this is a good horror book. There are some interesting visual ideas at work here to showcase Grimm’s mind that will resonate with folks. The Thing is one of the more relatable characters in comics thanks to his downtrodden nature and overall Duggan and Garney have pulled off an interesting peek at the inner workings of Ben Grimm.
Marvel should give Duggan and Garney a shot at similar one-shot tales with other characters, or even more with the Thing. This is a great way to experience the character, get some genre storytelling in, and feast your eyes on some impeccable visuals.