21 Down Volume 1
Author: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Publisher: Warner Bros
I found this one in a comic book store (Austin's Tanglewood Village Shopping Center - the one on the left not the fancy new one on the right, which really isn't a comic book store) that’s a treasure trove of older comics, and which incidentally has a thriving week-end card-playing gathering.
I wasn’t sure if I’d like it, and some editions were missing, so I picked up only the first three (four and five were two of the missing editions) to begin with but after I read those I went around and picked up the rest of the series, which runs to twelve volumes. So this marks the first time I've read and reviewed a complete comic book series.
The main character, Preston Kills, has two problems, not least of which is that he’s going to die the day he turns 21. Why this is so, is a mystery, but it appears to be most definitely connected with the other problem, which is a power that he has, whereby he can relive the last moments of a murder victim’s life.
It so happens that his brother is a cop, who has the ambition of achieving the same success their father enjoyed as a detective, so his brother’s power is proving to be really useful. Of course, the main character doesn’t think so, since he has to suffer along with the victim every time he relives a murder; consequently, he’s constantly on the verge of refusing to do this any more.
Unfortunately, he really has no choice, as we discover. Preston works as an artist at a tattoo shop, and this guy who comes in there to have a web put on his hand starts giving off vibes which the main character hasn’t experienced before. He suddenly realizes that this guy is also a murderer and calls it in to his brother. The guy, with the rather clichéd name of Mad Dog Duggan, realizes how the police tracked him down, and as he's about to dispatch Preston, to his rescue comes the highly provocative woman on the cover, who knows way too much about our main character.
I loved this story. It was smart, fast moving, well portrayed, and neatly put together. Yeah, the woman is just a tad too much comic trope for my taste, but in her favor, she’s a lot more complex than way-too-many comic book characters turn out to be. She has an agenda in seeking out our main character of which we’re kept in ignorance until volumes two and three (I’m glad those were not missing from the comic book store’s collection!).
Overall, I rate this as a very worthy read and a really good story. the art work is pretty cool, but it’s nice to see a comic book that’s not just remarkable art, but also has a good story to tell in those pictures and interesting characters to unveil.