Who done it?
Writer/Artist: Sekou Hamilton / Steven Cummings
What They Say
Lets you follow through a specialized CSI program - and through the investigation of the death of a peer, discover the truth behind an unthinkable crime.
American comic artist Steve Cummings showboats his ability to emulate the manga art form, but it's hard to tell if the small differences are his own flourishes, or just the slips of a slightly rougher touch. The dreary front cover features a foreboding full color digital painting of the five interns and their two supervisors all posing in what appears to be an implausible inch-thick of standing blood on the floor. Rough looking fonts and more murky colors fielding the summary on back (with further blood splattering) complete the grave, dark branding of the original franchise, though striking an unappealingly dreary note overall.
Characters are intentionally similar looking in order to make the killer fade back into the cast, but the ensuing confusion is not helpful. Inking is mostly fine, but certain strokes—especially on eyes—seem inconsistent, or suddenly heavy. Screen tone is fairly basic, mostly simple gradients, with only a few instances where it's more textural. Layouts are interesting with plenty of varying frame designs. The English writing (including sound effects) requires no translation, but suffers from a few badly confusing typos. Paper and ink quality are fine and extras include some pencil sketches of the characters, and sixteen pages of CSI: Brass In Pocket a novel from Pocket Books.
Content (may contain spoilers):
Things kick off immediately post-murder. The crime scene: a moonlit, freshly blood-spattered bedroom in a modest Las Vegas home. The victim: a young teenage girl. Fleeing the location, the murderer's light colored, shoulder length hair is partially identifiable and some other clues help us get the ball rolling towards making a positive I.D. on the perp. The next morning, scenes of the young protagonist Kiyomi's daily life do a decent job of defining her independent personality and reveal her aim to pass a high-school internship test for Las Vegas Crime Lab. Viewers of the show will be happy to see Catherine Willows, Dr. Robbins and others characters ported over from their T.V. roles to be propelled into full manga glory. After some drawn-out suspense, Kiyomi is admitted to the CSI intern program where she and four of her peers are presented with a case—the very same murder we saw at the volume's opening. Predictably, our stage is set for a "who done it" murder mystery joined with an "edutainment" theme as content shifts to showcasing the forensics lab's technology, staff and policies.
Suspense inches up after the interns learn that the victim was a fellow student at Las Vegas High, and when they whittle down the suspect pool to one of the four of them, suspicions are flying high. As all but one of them fit the bill for the afore mentioned shoulder length hair, we are meant to keep guessing, and a few red-herrings are doled out, but ultimately a jealous lover scenario emerges and the case draws to a close. The crime of passion theme has a boy's love spin on it in what seems to be an attempt to make the otherwise standard plot a little more distinct, but as yaoi overtones are hardly unique, the overall effect is smotheringly conventional.
A decent amount of suspense keeps the pages turning, but the novelty of "discovering" CSI may wear thin as over-eager teenagers dip things into hydrochloric acid, geek out over mass-spectrometers, and drop smarty-pants tidbits of knowledge to show off their expertise. Readers not already having an appreciation for the T.V. show, teen drama or CSI work in general may struggle to find it interesting, but the anticipation of finding out what happens next should at least carry most through to the end—though the resolution could leave some groaning for relief.