Just when I think Jonathan Hickman’s The Black Monday Murders has reached its apex of awesome and horrifying, the series up the ante by half. The Black Monday Murders #3 feels like the official plunge into the depths of madness, as if the issues prior to this were just flirting with it. Oh, did I mention it also features one of the most horrifying and effective panels I’ve ever seen in a comic series? Because it does.
In the vein of all good noir mysteries, issue three takes place almost entirely in an interrogation room, as Viktor Eresko speaks with police. It is evident, early on, that the detectives sent in to speak with him are wildly out of their depth. Eresko remains a delightfully malicious force to be reckoned with. We know that he has been a string-puller for quite some time within Mammon’s designs, but this is the first real glimpse into both his powers and his inner workings. Eresko isn’t just a step ahead in the game, he’s already passed Go and built a hotel.
But he’s not just toying with detectives, here, either. It’s clear, from the transcripts of his talk with his lawyer, that he’s pulling strings from an even higher vantage point. He doesn’t fear the Board, and, indeed, he implies that they are victim of his own game, as well. Whether or not it’s a game that only he is playing, or if Mammon is steering him, remains unclear. What is clear is that this series is about to get a whole lot bloodier and darker.
Detective Dumas remains a fascinating character. He’s smart and has a touch of his own magic, but he’s also just a man trying to piece together a mystery, to which he has so very little clues. His interview/exchange with Eresko might be the most effectively horrifying use of art and dialog and that I’ve seen in a long while. Eresko is a man who has nothing to fear or lose, so it’s delightful that he’s willing to clue Dumas into a small measure of truth. He knows that the path will only lead to madness and more blood, so why not? It’s a scene between two men who are not given to grandstanding or beating around the bush and it has cemented this as not only one of my favorite series this year, but perhaps as one of my favorite Hickman series.
There’s a slight interlude, as Grigoria confirms the identity of her brother’s body, and reveals symbols we knew to be there. It’s an odd breather between the action in the precinct, and while I’m sure it will hold more significance later on, it does feel a bit much within the context of the story. We’ve already been told that Grigoria doesn’t really have much by way of mourning for her brother’s death. I’m not sure we needed another reminder, and, frankly, there is literally nothing that any of the characters could say or do that would be half as compelling as Viktor’s speech.
The art is fantastic, as well, beyond the panels above, and the four pages of dialog accompanying it. All of the pages are dark and broody without being so dark as to not know what is going on. They’re easy to follow and the use of shadow around Eresko’s face is amazing.
I love this series. Love, love, love. It’s occult realism at its finest without ever venturing too far into the outrageous. The pitting of the arrogant Eresko against Dumas has me longing for more dialog between the two. Even though we know it’s a terrible idea for Dumas to dig deeper into what Viktor has told him, we know damn well he is going to. And I can’t wait to see where it takes him.
The Black Monday Murders #3
Author: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Tomm Coker
Publisher: Image Comics
Publish date: 10/12/2016
Acquired via Purchase