Written by: Steve Niles
Art by: Tony Harris
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewed By: Julius Freeman
ISSUE SUMMARY: Shaw is a man on the run and lost in time. Fleeing ancient enemies, Shaw finds himself in prohibition-era Chicago surrounded by gangers and demons alike and caught between law enforcement and the local supernatural underground. CHIN MUSIC is a tale of mysticism and violence like nothing you’ve experienced before.
REVIEW: Some books come along every so often that make you scratch your head. This isn’t a bad thing, either. It could be a good thing, depending on the artists involved. Anyway, some books you don’t quite know what to think of it just yet, but you have no problem going along for the ride because you happen to find the driver interesting. The driver seems to be on the edge of some cliff, and your natural instinct is to stay as far away from that cliff as possible, but your curiosity gets the best of you and you veer off the edge with him to see what he’s looking at. So, you go along for the ride to discover what lies ahead. This is how I felt after reading Chin Music.
The Story revolves around a mysterious character (they never mention his name) carving unreadable ancient scripture on the tip of a bullet. He places a candle in the center of an alchemical inscription carved on the table. He prays, and places the bullet inside the gun and shoots, but we don’t see what he shoots. We then cut to Egypt, where another mysterious man is chased by three spirits for helping people. His body is dragged and has his flesh stripped off his body leaving only his bones and eyes intact. The three evil spirits warn him one final time to not help people with the gifts he has or else they will “hunt him down for the final time”. The dying carcass drags itself to a street, no doubt in immense pain, and is run over by a car driven by none other than Eliot Ness (yes, that Eliot Ness). Then we cut to Chicago circa 1930 and are introduced to Al Capone. The ending is, well, a Steve Niles ending for sure.
Yeah, that’s the story in a nutshell, but told by a much more gifted, and talented writer, Steve Niles. See what I mean by not knowing where you’re going, but going for the ride anyway because the driver happens to be the combined efforts of Tony Harris (Ex-Machina and Star Man) and Steve Niles (30 Days of Night and DC’s Showcase: The Spectre). How can you say no to that ride? Tony Harris has evolved exponentially as an artist. His style no longer looks like Tony Harris. It’s completely transformed into a whole new beast. I had to make sure three times that what I read on the credits said Tony Harris (THE Tony Harris) because the artwork was new, fresh, and innovative. Steve Niles, well, does what Steve Niles does best, horror. Given the fact that he’s working with one of the best sequential artists in modern times, he has a bonafide hit in his hands. The story itself, like I said, is something I don’t quite know what to make of yet, but its definitely one intriguing, and strong, premise that makes me beg for more.
Again, like last week’s review of Ten Grand, this is what happens when you allow big time names to let their creative juices flow like the Niagara Falls. Once again, we need to give credit to Image Comics for ushering in this new Golden Age of creativity. Chin Music is a book you can’t miss, and yeah, we’d all prefer if these superstar artists drew and wrote our favorite superhero books, but I much rather have them produce original works. There’s only so much you can do with superheroes before they become stale and recycled (>cough<DC’s New 52 and >cough< Marvel’s NOW). I’ve experienced three “clean slate” revisions by the big two and every time it’s the same ol’ story. Try something new, exciting, daring, and provocative in Chin Music. I know I will and so should you.