There are genres for which I am a sucker and will gravitate toward any comic/movie/TV series that occupies said genre. Prohibition era is one of those genres, as is a good werewolf tale. Moonshine, by Brian Azzarello, then, seemed a very natural fit for me, as it was poised to provide a true chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter series. After a handful of issues, I found myself unsubscribing, and not looking back.
The series is about a New York gangster sending down one of his charming, good looking, but none-too-bright lackies down to a moonshiner in the South with a simple proposal: sell to us for a “reasonable” price. As Lou, our pretty boy, shows up, it’s immediately apparent that the moonshiner family is not the simple country bumpkin type to be wooed or impressed by cash. Not only is the patriarch far smarter and more cunning than the NY boss assumed, he’s also just as violent and dangerous. But not as dangerous as the monster that stalks the woods.
All of this sounds interesting enough, but I think that’s how the series tricks you. In practice, the story is painfully slow. We’re almost at the end of the first arc, and I’m not even sure what the first arc is trying to accomplish, other than to establish that which we guessed from the initial run-in with the werewolf. Which is problem number one with the series: readers are able to solve the mystery long before its painfully slow reveal.
Which is problem number two with the series: it’s painfully slow. Like, molasses, uphill, on crutches slow. We’re five issues in, and nothing has happened other than a lot of people being killed by a werewolf that we already knew was hunting and stalking in the woods. It would be one thing if the werewolf just now showed up on a murder spree, but it’s been out there hunting for several issues. At this point, when it shows up to kill, it feels very ho-hum. In some ways, it’s impressive how utterly boring and routine Moonshine has made a goddamn werewolf.
Problem number three is that the series is populated entirely by stereotyped characters and cliched dialog. The gangsters themselves feel like ye standard Prohibition gangsters, each of them having appeared as background characters in any number of stories over the years, and contributing nothing to the story. In many ways, the gangsters have, thus far, felt like a population of Red Shirt gangsters, each more disposable and forgettable than the last. The Southern denizens also feel very much pulled for any number of Southern horror/Gothic tales, with none of them feeling particularly memorable or unique.
I really, really wanted to like Moonshine. It had all of my interests written within, and I have, historically, been a fan of Brian Azzarello. Truth be told, I’d be willing to suffer through a few more issues if the series suffered from only one of the problems above. Flat characters can be bolstered by an interesting story, or good pacing. Likewise, a slow story can be improved by strong characters and story. But all three problems, together, make for an unenjoyable and largely forgettable read. I’ll keep my eye on the series to see if it improves, over time, but for now, this one I shan’t be continuing with.