COMIC REVIEW: Limbo #1 – Beneath the Thumb | FanboysInc

COMIC REVIEW: Limbo #1 – Beneath the Thumb

By Buddy Beaudoin

COMIC REVIEW: Limbo #1 - Beneath the Thumb

Writer: Dan Watters

Artists: Caspar Wijngaard, Jim Campbell

$2.99

Image Comics

In the peak of World War II, America began to send troops into Europe to fight against Hitler and the spread of his Nazi war machine. These soldiers were everyday men, some laborers, some tradesmen, and yet still, some filmmakers. What these filmmakers returned stateside with was a cultured perspective on German expressionism and French film techniques that saw the birth of film noir. Since the 1940’s the debate has raged on, in small circles mind you, over what exactly constitutes noir. These films have many constituents, but no real defining factors. Some purists even believe that since the term “film noir” literally translates to “black film,” that any film shot in color, even with all the other themes in place, could not possibly be noir.

Though not a film at all, Dan Watters’ and Caspar Wijngaard’s “Limbo” makes a pretty compelling argument against the purists. Taking its cues from a genre called “neon noir,” where bright splashes of color replace black and white elements to achieve the same effect on pulling focus, Limbo screams off the page. Told mostly through the driving action in the art and a narrator’s inner monologue, Limbo builds a world reminiscent of the Bogart and Bacall days. The lines pop, the color challenges you to examine the page, and the script work is subtle and nuanced where it needs to be, but can pack a wallop in a pinch. The color serves as a reminder of that, using bright cool tones in moments of reflection, or heavy scripting, and bright fast colors in action scenes. Wijngaard really has a command over his palate, particularly in how he emphasizes the lighting – perhaps the biggest determiner of noir classification.

COMIC REVIEW: Limbo #1 - Beneath the Thumb

Limbo #1 (2015) – Page 8

Outside of the way this thing looks and feels, all the other classic American detective noir elements are there. Our hero, Clay, is a private eye with limited knowledge of his own self having suffered from a crippling amnesia. All he has is nine months of conscious time in a city that seems hell bent on breaking him down. The thugs hold their own, and pull no punches. The main baddie, “The Thumb,” holds his own mystery, and some sort of unspoken (as of yet) connection to the femme fatale.

COMIC REVIEW: Limbo #1 - Beneath the Thumb

Limbo #1 (2015) – Page 22

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Clay’s story line is very underdeveloped at this time, as the creative team took much of issue one to build the world around him, but what little scraps they give you are enough to keep you begging for the whole meal. Even without knowing that Clay has no memories, leaving really anything you can imagine open and on the table, Clay starts the issue with a curious and broken phone call that is never spoken of again.

 

There’s some sort of voodoo element of play. The cover and some of the interior art suggest that music has a big part in how people communicate with the otherworldly. Dance is used as conversation. This too is a little played down at this time, but very much seems like it will have a lot to do with the driving force of the Limbo story.

For a first issue, the story is rich and fleshed out in all the right places. The art is mystifying, particularly in its use of color. There’s a lot beneath the surface waiting to come out, but the mystery is what makes noir worth the investment. The quality is indicative of what you might expect from a new Image title, as they’re mostly known for not picking up schlubs. I’ll be following this one closely.

COMIC REVIEW: Limbo #1 - Beneath the Thumb

Limbo #1 (2015) – Page 28

The “Best There Is”: A very smooth read. Everything from the timing of the script, to the design of the art, to even the placing of the word bubbles was all as it should be. This is a highly stylized comic that works, and keeps you guessing. The mystery elements are played out beautifully, and in such a way that you can feel each of them building to an action in the plot. Enjoyable from cover to cover.

The “Not Very Nice”: While I have no doubt that this book will read well episodically, I could have done with a few more pages. What’s here is entirely immersive, and I felt myself getting caught up in it right up until the end, which felt abrupt as you’re left searching for answers. Maybe that’s not a critique, maybe that’s my selfishness, but I stand by it.

FBI Score: 9.5 out of 10. Limbo is a marvel. The style in the writing and art drives the action and puts you in dark alleyways and dive bars. You can smell the stench of the fishmen and hear the breaking of necks as the world built by Watters and Wijngaard sucks you in like a Tron machine. A modern day noir that will leave critics of the genre in debate, no doubt about it.

Buddy Beaudoin

Buddy Beaudoin is a writer and independent comic creator from Upstate, NY. He's a fan of tea, spacey music, and a nice pair of slacks. He LOVES comics. Batman, Swamp Thing, and Jonah Hex are some favorites, but he's also a pretty big fan of the indies. Should you ever need him, walk outside and yell his name loudly...

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