By:Tony Whitt
Review Date: Friday, January 07, 2005

A Hollywood director is found murdered in his home, and the primary suspect is the actress who starred in the original version of a movie he was remaking. There are pictures taken just before the murder showing her servicing the director in question, for one thing. But detective Jack Dixon discovers there's more to this murder than meets the eye, as even photographs can lie...just as much as people do.

This one's a strange one, folks. On the one hand, FREAKSHOW does some new and interesting things with the sort of psycho killer plotline that's been cliché for ages now, and it does so in such a way that it takes a few readings of the book to catch all the clues necessary to see that you haven't been led down the garden path after all. (I'd tell you what the cliché and the plot twist are, but I don't want to spoil this one for you. Better that you pick it up and check it out.) On the other hand, there are a few gaping holes in that same plot that make you wonder why the lead character Jack Dixon can't figure out who the killer is in the first place. (Can't tell you what those are, either. Trust me, though when you get to the end and figure out what's been going on, you'll also find yourself asking, "How could he not know that?") On top of that, there are a few really, really tasteless blowjob jokes in this issue, including one that doesn't really work. Sorry, but it's not that difficult to do a good blowjob joke.

Still, all this aside, it's refreshing to see this sort of lead character in a comic, and for the most part Robert Curley gets the sound and flavor of 1950s Hollywood just right. Even more refreshing is seeing indy comic art that's both stylish and doesn't suck. There are actually two artists on this issue, for some reason, though the two styles are so similar that it's only just noticeable when the change occurs. Of the two, Stephen Mooney's style is a bit more bare bones he relies more on shadow and crisp clear lines to convey his imagery but even when Stephen Thompson picks up halfway through with a style given more to rougher lines and additional detail, it's still decently done. Special kudos to both artists for doing such quality work that the book's biggest shocker a completely visual moment is immediately understandable.

I'm not quite sure how Curley plans to get a fifty-issue maxi-series out of these characters, as he claims on the inside front cover, but if he can keep this creative team together and leave out those naughty blowjob jokes he may just make it after all.

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Mania Grade: B-
Issue: 1
Authors: Robert Burley, Stephen Mooney, Stephen Thompson
Publisher: Atomic Diner
Price: $2.95