The Private Eye is modern noir without the shadows. The bursting of the Internet and stampede of secrets that toppled lives, businesses, and the culture of information resulted in a world where privacy is worth killing for.
Bolstered by the well-deserved success of the first issue, Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin offer the next chapter in their clever digital-first thriller. The second issue is every bit as filled with questions as the first. The mystery deepens as Taj is found dead after asking the P.I. to uncover her own story, and the Press are investigating the case. Unfortunately for our P.I., the deceased had the name “Patrick Immelmann” written on her hand. And when Taj’s sister is assured that the P.I. isn’t the killer, she asks him to take the case.
Vaughan displays first-class world-building skills in this society where people wear masks to hide their identities and some reject networked technology in a manner reminiscent of the first few episodes of Battlestar Galactica. Think about it – when was the last time you saw anyone using a Walkman tape recorder? His cautious characters are slow to give us their stories, and I suspect one of the great joys of this planned 10-issue run will be discovering who these people really are as we question which is the real mask – the mask itself or the face behind it?
Marcos Martin’s art propels us head-on through the pages. His detailed backgrounds set the stage for this world with hovercars, phone booths, and paper trails made of actual paper. His dynamic camera angles are reminiscent of his work on action books like Batgirl: Year One, and their confident presentation add a sense of urgency and momentum to the story. You’ll probably recognize his artistic tips of the hat to a few familiar characters from other comics, as well.
Turning noir’s black and white artistic traditions on their ear, Muntsa Vicente continues to use a vibrant palette of colors that set the open tone of Vaughan’s discordant future. After all, how many other noir books could get away with using lime green to foreshadow violence?
You don’t need to be a mystery fan to appreciate The Private Eye #2, you just need to enjoy good storytelling, strong characters, and expressive art. Get your copy here.
Brian K. Vaughan (W), Marcos Martin (A), Muntsa Vicente (C) • Panel Syndicate, $0.99 or Your Best Offer, May 7, 2013.