Where do you go when you dream?
Welcome to the peep show of P.I.’s drug-induced dreams and a revealing look into his mind that lays bare (very bare) a private journey to cope with extreme pain and stress. It’s the ultimate invasion of privacy as writer Brian K. Vaughan begins issue #3 of The Private Eye with an unapologetic romp through his main character’s thoughts.
Vaughan tells the story in the present and uses flashbacks to recreate the events that follow last issue’s cliffhanger ending. P.I. and Raveena are at Gramps’ house recovering from their encounter with the gas-masked goons as a now fully awake P.I. relives the violent scene that led to the loss of his middle finger and Raveena’s bullet-grazed face. Lightening the heavy mood after tending to their medical needs, of course, is Gramps: “Take it easy stoner…needed a lot of dope to put your ass out.”
The flashback to P.I.’s office is an adrenaline rush. Tempering the violence and desperation of their circumstances with humor, Vaughan provides a brief respite for P.I. and Raveena as the two gas-masked thugs prove to be inept shots, and they argue about it in front of their would-be victims. It’s an edge-of-your-seat moment where you can’t allow yourself to laugh, but you’d like to. This is just the break our heroes need to escape.
Marcos Martin’s art has the fast pace and camera angles of a film storyboard. You can almost hear the glass shatter as P.I. and Raveena jump out the window to crash-land on the canopy below. But Vaughan isn’t the only one with a sense of humor. Our battered and bloodied escapees hop on the bus, and the reactions of their fellow passengers are priceless. It’s finally okay to let yourself laugh, sort of. Martin places cool tidbits of information in the backgrounds, so give yourself a second read to pick up on them. Did you catch the poster for The Maltese Falcon in P.I.’s office?
Courtesy of Muntsa Vicente’s vibrant colors, this book counters every notion that noir has to live in the dark. The eye-popping future holds no shadows for your shady deeds. To melt into the fabric of this brave new world, you have to attract attention.
The issue ends with P.I. taking on Raveena’s case after all:
“I thought you said you weren’t interested in homicides.”
“Yeah well. That was before these shitheads torched my record collection.”
Only three issues into this “pay what you want” creative experiment, we may well be looking at the future of creator-owned sequential art. The Private Eye is maintaining a high quality of storytelling, and that’s reason enough to give it a try.
Brian K. Vaughan (W), Marcos Martin (A), Muntsa Vicente (C), self-published, pay what you want, available now at panelsyndicate.com.