To Be Published by Rough Cut Comics (on sale at ThoughtBubble 2014)
Edited by Ed Murphy
Cover by Joel Carpenter
The Book: This 68-page book published by Rough Cut Comics continues on from the award-winning Casebook Issue One – a modern crime twist on Jekyll and Hyde, where the ‘Good Cop’ and the ‘Bad Cop’ are the same person. Casebook Two features all-new material written by Jim Alexander and art by Luke Cooper and Will Pickering.
The battle of wills intensifies as Detective Inspector Brian Fisher’s relationships with the police force and the criminal underworld spin dangerously out of control. Can the ‘Good Cop’ survive when all the ‘Bad Cop’ wants to do is drag him deeper and deeper?
The Review: The return of GoodCopBadCop, which won the 2014 True Believers Award for Best British black and white comic, delivers a quick return to form for this Scottish crime series. It’s got two stories of dirty, gritty crime on the Banks of the Clyde in Glasgow.
Warning: Potential Spoilers Ahead
Tiny Facts of Kindness
Written by Jim Alexander
Art by Luke Cooper
Letters by Jim Campbell
The central character of GoodCopBadCop is DI Brian Fisher. He’s a Glasgow cop with both a good and a bad attitude. Literally a man of two sides, he’s the Jekyll and Hyde of crime comics. He puts ‘the beat back in to the beat cop.’
In this the first and longest of the books two stories we see on the opening page a dismembered body buttocks up and floating in the River Clyde. As a quick prologue it leads in to DI Fisher taking down a couple of armed robbers trying to steal cash from a supermarket. Fisher does this with the look of a crazy man and a can of baked beans. As it turns out, the robbery was staged through desperation as the two criminals had recently crossed the local crime lord (Roy Lichtenstein no less) and were desperate for cash so they could leave town.
The investigation is handled by Fisher and the other book’s regular character DS Spencer. It leads off on various streams of investigation until Fisher finds himself at a local (and especially suspicious) church where he encounters the local priest and the story takes a serial killer turn.
This story was pretty flawless. The drama is kept at a nice cynical pace and the art works really well and looks great in black and white. Luke has a minimal look to his faces and this works well throughout. He handles the shock moments really well and the dialogue crackles along with Glaswegian spirit and humour.
As a result, I can forgive the odd cliche. For example, the use of the American caution seems somewhat out of place to us canny followers of crime fiction and the balling out Spencer gives Fisher for being out of control seems a little 1980s Running Scared/Lethal Weapon. But all in all it works excellently as a feet on the ground, gritty crime drama. Having a mother from Glasgow and being a regular visitor there may I cheekily suggest that it couldn’t be set in a better place?
I read this in one sitting and would highly recommend it to a new reader. I had previously missed out on issue 1 but didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything substantial.
Twisting the Knife
Written by Jim Alexander
Art by Will Pickering
Letters by Jim Campbell
This is the second and shorter story in issue two. It has a change on artist and a slight change in approach.
It opens with DS Spencer visiting her Chief Superintendent with a report about a recent crime. He asks her to tell him what happened. So what you get is her narrating a story involving her and Fisher attending the scene of a violent aggravated burglary, the victim left on the verge of death as she and Fisher begin the investigation.
As the case progresses the family of the victim begin tailing the police, to beat them to the suspect and hand out their own more violent justice. As it turns out, he’s soon found, with a knife in his chest on the verge of death.
Spencer’s report makes it clear she suspects Fisher told the family where this man was before they got to him – but that she also witnessed him twisting the blade and so killing the suspect. As he does this, he turns to her and she sees his Hyde face…
This is shorter story, but it has real bite to it. The art is more traditional in its line work than “Tiny Acts of Kindness” but still tells the tale with magnificent clarity and drama. We are left with a mystery that looks like it will be further delved in to by Spencer in upcoming issues.
Another great crime story.
Complimenting these two excellent stories are a great cover by Joel Carpenter and some really interesting text pieces, autobiographical stories of Fisher disguised as ‘Case Files’.
This is in fact a really impressive overall package that’s well worth the cover price of £7.99.
• The first copies of GoodCopBadCop: Casebook#2 will be on sale at Thought Bubble (on the Rough Cut Comics/Planet Jimbot table situated in New Dock Hall). You can buy Rough Cut Comics via amazon or order the book direct from www.roughcut-comics.com in December 2014
• You can find Jim Alexander on Twitter @Planetjimbot
Many thanks for reading.