Ever wonder what New York City of 1929 would be like if you mixed prohibition and vampires? Yeah, me neither. It's lucky for any and all curious readers that Jonathan Ross did, though. Taking place in the winter of 1929, Ross' vision of New York City is populated with an immediately broad cast of characters; ranging from a newspaper writer looking to break out from her society column to the immigrant family who have a more exotic thirst than the illegal liquors of the day can satisfy. There are Mafia Dons and speakeasies playing Jazz. There are nasty characters on the take and a corrupt system that preys on the weak.
And there's also a spaceship.
Which makes this kind of so damn crazy that it just works seamlessly. I kid you not.
All of this adds up to the fact that Jonathan Ross proves himself quite the storyteller with his debut in comics. Accentuated by the fantastic artwork of Tommy Lee Edwards, Turf creates a gritty atmosphere of days gone by. In the ways that history likes to romanticize the tommy gun era of the past, Turf sticks to that feel while also adding in timeless elements of classic horror and science fiction. Ross' imagination seems to have almost overflowed into this book; the proof of which being the fact that there is literally so much text to read that it's almost unbelievable to see it written so expansively in a modern comic book. This one is definitely not streamlined with the amount to read but yet it still maintains a good pace, largely due to the fact that it has impeccable layouts on every single page.
It has to.
The sheer amount of words contained in every panel make it an amazing accomplishment that it never interferes with the artwork or the flow. Sure, it's noticeably more labor intensive to read, but this becomes a good thing; a pleasant change of pace to the way most books these days are slimmed down for the fastest run-through possible. This is where the credit to Jonathan Ross' storytelling skills comes into play. You hear the narrative in your head as if someone is telling you the events. Characters develop quickly because of this and the dialogue is natural and real. Though it's only the opening issue to their tale, Ross and Edwards have created a charismatic cast that command the attention in each of their respective scenes.
The biggest selling point of this book (with the art being a very close second) is that while reading it you pick up on the fact that Ross has put a lot of thought into his story and followed his idea up with just as much effort into writing it down. Yes, it suffers just a bit from almost being "too wordy" at times, but with the way his effort shows here, it's impossible not to view this as a good problem to have. Jonathan Ross has written with obvious enthusiasm, Tommy Lee Edwards backs him up perfectly and I'm calling these guys a perfect match for comic books.
Also of note here; this is the most bang for your buck I've seen in a comic book at $2.99 in a looong time! That alone is justification for anyone out there that enjoys a story of the fantastic to pick this one up. Seriously, this could have easily been a $4.99 book at one of the other companies and is exactly the kind of project that deserves a reward from all of us grumpy readers that are going broke reading these things.
Turf #1 gets a very solid B grade and I'm eager to see what else is headed readers' way in issue number two.