REVIEW: The One Hand #1

The One Hand #1 offers an opening issue that grabs you by the throat and never lets go.  A subtly written story, twisting back and forth on itself, never quite being what it seems, The One Hand #1 offers the reader a superior experience in noir comic storytelling.

The One Hand #1Detective Ari Nassar has signed his retirement papers.  He’s a tough old stick, seen it all, done it all yadayadayada.  His patch is a rain soaked city full to the brim with criminals, the criminally insane, and everyone else trying to stay on top before the sewers overflow and the rats claim dominion.  It’s a rain soaked hellhole, and Nassar has policed it for decades.  And in doing so, he’s captured, twice, the serial killer known as The One Hand Killer.

The One Hand #1 happily feasts on all the tropes of detective fiction, especially the sort steeped in noir.  The visuals, by artist Laurence Campbell (channelling the great John Ridgeway in his 80s pomp), have their target firmly set on evoking New York c1942 – grey and grim, windswept and rain battered, ready to fly apart at a moment’s notice, with the criminal underground running rampant and the cops breaking heads (and the law) to keep a lid on a powderkeg ready to go bang.  Buildings lean and totter, figures stagger out of the shadows and back into them.  The sun has seemingly vanished, leaving a gloom haunted twilight in which the most despicable, blood soaked depravities happen again and again.

It’s absolutely glorious.

In The One Hand #1 Nassar does evoke all the usual tropes – hardbitten, dedicated to his work to the exclusion of all else, and out of time outsider in a department ready to move on, in a city that’s sinking deeper and deeper into the mire.  The return of The One Hand Killer breathes new life into Nassar’s jaded old bones, and provides the spark that makes him cast aside his retirement for the thrill of the chase.

Writer Ram Vs masterstroke in writing The One Hand #1 is the setting he has created.  I won’t reveal what those twists and turns are, but he sets up a running theme that may impact the rest of the series.  Let’s just say I was floored by one revelation, then stunned again by the second.

Sure, the tropes of the genre are on display.  But when they are this good, so evocative of a time and place when life was less bland, less smoothed out, less safe, the reader is dragged in so thoroughly they don’t realise they’re holding their breath until the final page is turned.

The One Hand #1 evokes James Ellroy via the movie Seven.  This is one comic you do not want to miss.

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Robert Mammone

Robert Mammone

Robert Mammone reviewed comics for two years for the Major Spoilers website and has reviewed DVD and blu ray releases for Impulse Gamer since 2013. Reviewing aside, Rob dabbles in writing genre fiction.

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