Andy Diggle and Aaron Campbell fuse hardboiled crime fiction with the unexplainable as they usher in a “Season of Hungry Ghosts” for fans starved for originality.
Dynamite Entertainment’s efforts to diversify its publishing line by investing in high-profile creator-owned properties has been paying big dividends recently. Following up the success of Garth Ennis’ Red Team, Andy Diggle and Aaron Campbell’s Uncanny also careens headlong into hardboiled action and adventure, if from an entirely different angle.
Following the unfortunate chain of events that steers unrepentant con man and thief Weaver onto a dangerous path speeding towards a larger, vaster shadowy world, Uncanny is an exceptional example in patient, well-crafted comics. Embracing the story’s roots in crime fiction, Diggle shows fantastic restraint, alternating between rousing action sequences and telling emotional beats to create a controlled, even pace that confidently drives the plot through its atmospheric twists and turns. Just as there is much more to Weaver, a man who can temporarily commandeer a person’s memories and skill set, than at first meets the eye, so too there is a lot more going on with Uncanny than just another genre mash-up. Diggle cannily parses his story out in tasty little morsels, doling out just enough history and character to keep his audience hooked.
Set against a backdrop of international supernatural intrigue, where con men have supernatural powers and beautiful mysterious women come to the rescue on hot motorcycles, Uncanny also provides the perfect vehicle for popular, up-and-coming talent Aaron Campbell to stretch his wings and really draw. From the lush, textured backgrounds to the kinetic fight scenes, Campbell approaches each panel with an impeccable attention to detail and thoughtful intent. There’s an artful, workmanlike quality to Campbell’s rendering that evokes the often anonymous artists of the classic crime comics of the Golden Age. You get the feeling he could draw anything.
Featuring top-notch art and suspenseful storytelling in equal measures, Uncanny is shaping up to be one of the dark horse books of the summer, if this first issue is any indication. Diggle and Campbell are well-matched, each playing to the other’s strengths; their love of the genre and their story evident in every word and panel of the book. Unique and refreshing, Uncanny simmers in its subversion of the crime genre, the perfect quality it turns out, for summer reading.
Andy Diggle (W), Aaron Campbell (A), Bill Crabtree (C) • Dynamite Entertainment, $3.99, June 26, 2013.