Review: Rat Catcher

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Rat Catcher is a series of authentic moments steadily building to provide a unique comics noir experience. It begins with Jared K. Fletcher's lettering. The first title, "West Texas Badlands," takes you offcenter with its quirky alternating of wide and narrow type. In that same panel, three lanky lines set up desolation and destruction: one provides a crisp little strip of mountainscape; another is a dark diagonal representing asphalt; and the last is an endless belch of black smoke coming from a tiny little speck representing a house in turmoil.
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Andy Diggle's writing directs us closer. We next see the house with three cars pointing directly at it. A young man emerges from the flames. Victor Ibanez's art is finely matched to the relentless noir action: the first scene ends with the same young man just having killed a bystander within a few minutes. His only response to the accident: "Shit." His face is blacked out in harsh shadow that mimics the dark splotch of the gun shot wound to his back.
Sam Peckinpah made some spectacularly violent movies but the violence was honest, true to the story and to itself. That sort of unflinching brutality runs in the best noir fiction, like James M. Cain's "The Postman Always Rings Twice." And that same crunchy goodness runs through "Rat Catcher," the latest in the excellent Vertigo Crime series. I had the pleasure of reviewing another book in this series, "The Bronx Kill," here at GeekWeek and, let me tell you friends, that too is a keeper. The art and writing are distinctly different, but just as compelling.
People, explosives, trucks, cows, all sorts of things move in this book in what seem like haphazzard order. You don't even know who the guy who was shot in the back at the start of this story is until much later. But each character does make themselves known in good time. You are left to hold each piece of the puzzle and prepare for one surprise after another. In a stark and gritty world such as this, it's not so much that you're being asked to care about a character as much as there's stuff you need to know. For instance, there's this one FBI agent who has a cross to bear and leaves you wondering how he even crawls out of bed. But then you can't spend too much time on him since you're still trying to figure out what really happened at that safe house that went up in smoke completely eliminating a witness and three other FBI agents.
This is a great story with a lot of twists and turns that fans of Andy Diggle's "The Losers" have come to expect. While the characters in this book are generally less boisterous, you can expect to have plenty of colorful low-lifes, gut-wrenching violence and, above all else, an honest good time. Considering how many readers of comics are looking for distinctive all-in-one graphic novels, Vertigo Crime is an attractive option, just the sort of fun and offbeat read to zone out a bus or subway ride. 
Rat Catcher is 184 pages and costs $19.99 US. The dazzling cover is by Lee Bermejo. Check out other Vertigo graphic novels at
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