Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Spotlight on Blue Estate
Most recently, I lauded Blue Estate as a runner up to my favorite comics of the year, calling it "crafty, twisty crime writing at its finest". However, prior to that, Blue Estate garnered only one other mention, waaaaaay back in April when the first issue came out, and the best platitude I could muster back then was "pretty solid".
So how did Blue Estate go from pretty solid to the lofty ranks of a Battle Hymns "best of" runner up award? Well, surprisingly the recipe for success is quite simple.
Blue Estate has done one crucial thing that has moved me from "pretty solid" to being one of my most favorite comics: it just gets better and better with each subsequent issue. The first volume, which collects the first four issues is a great read, but personally, I got completely sucked in by the 5th-8th issues. Everything awesome about Blue Estate got more awesome in these issues, and when things get completely ratcheted up like that, I get really excited.
Allow me to highlight some of the awesomeness...
As each issue comes along, I've gotten to know each character a bit better. I discover bits about their past, their motivations, and how they are interconnected with the other characters that populate the series. In Blue Estate, you get a lot of what at the surface might seem like familiar crime story cliches; There's a troubled starlet, a Russian mafioso, Italian mobsters, private eyes, detectives, strippers, and so on. However, these characters are in no way caricatures of things you've seen before. These characters are becoming increasingly fleshed out, and developed so that, while they have an air of familiarity, these "standbys" of the crime genre are being taken in new and interesting directions.
I know I might be mixing my story telling mediums a bit here, but the best comparison I can make, and probably the highest praise I can heap on, is that the characters in Blue Estate remind me a lot of George R.R. Martin's characters from A Song of Ice and Fire in the sense that there's some I love, some I hate, some that I love to hate, some that are pure entertainment to read, and others who I started out not liking and now like, and vice-versa. Most importantly, like I do with ASoIaF, when certain characters aren't in a particular issue, I miss them. With such well crafted characters at the core of the series, I find myself pining away between issues.
Putting my emotions aside for a moment, there is one other key element of awesomeness I want to point out, and that is the plotting. Simply put, Blue Estate has some of the most insanely intricate plotting I've seen. I'll be the first to admit, I pretty much have no idea where this story is going. But you know what? That's fine with me because I've developed a lot of faith in the writing of Viktor Kalvachev and Kosta Yanev and the scripting by Andrew Osborne. As the story progresses there's been conclusions to scenes, and story lines that have knocked my socks off with the way they are concluded not only with crafty writing, but with a sense of humor, and a large degree of style. The "style" factor is hard to put into words, but it makes its mark in the atmosphere, the dialog, and the art.
Furthermore, the writers have pulled off a fantastic, magician-like performance in terms of keeping things hidden, keeping me guessing, and delivering little clues along the way that deceive, hint and enthrall. These factors add up, and give me faith that there's great things to come for this series. There's no doubt that there's some hidden agendas I know nothing about, and I can't wait to see where things go.
I should also add that back in April, when I discussed the first issue, I wasn't completely in love with the rotating art duties. I've since come to terms with it, and frankly have no problems with it at this point. I think as I've become accustomed to the story and the characters, the changing art styles feels like second nature at this point, and has become yet another unique and endearing quality of Blue Estate.
I hope some of you give Blue Estate a shot, so we can talk about it here, and give the dudes at the comic shop a rest from my monthly rave-sessions. The first two volumes are out now (or will be by tomorrow 1/11), so this is a great time to check out an awesome series.
Grade so far (Issues 1-8): A