By Manuel A. Carmona
While I was at my local comic shop browsing the isles I came across a book called All Crime Comics #1; and it immediately grabbed my attention. It had a gorgeous cover by Bruce Timm and it looked like the comic was at least 40 years old. The second thing I loved about this book was the price point, $3.95 for 36 pages in full color and beautifully illustrated; that’s how comics should be priced today in my opinion. Then I opened the book and found a story that spanned a few decades, about a friendship gone astray and behind it’s demise, there was a girl. The art on Chapters 1 and 3 was done by Ed Laroche, who’c I compare to Frank miller in his grittiness and “to the point” approach to storytelling. The art on Chapter 2 or the “flashback” was done by Marc Sandroni. Sandroni’s style is very clean and stylized and it fits perfectly for the “flashback” scene because it has an “old school” feel to it, and it depicts the the tone of the story, which was set under much better circumstances than Chapters 1 and 3. I don’t understand one thing though, in the credits, the story is accredited to The art of Fiction and not any particular writer; that was a bit odd to me.
Now the story begins with a character named Marko beating the hell out of some random thugs in order to extract some information from them. The brutality in the beating let’s the reader know that this guy doesn’t play around, he does this for a living and he enjoys what he does. Then we see one of our two main characters: “Dodger”. Him and Marko are allies, and together they’re working on their “last job”. So, they beat up their way through some random “snitches” until they find the information they’ve been looking for. they end up meeting with a group of Dodger’s “friends” and he spells out his plan, they’re going to kill Louie Derose. From everyone else’s reaction you can tell that this Louie Derose individual is a very powerful and dangerous guy in the underworld scene and they’re not quite sure about all this; but they eventually go along with it. Now we move to Camp Leavenworth, Kansas and we meet Louie Derose at last. Turns out he’s locked up but still has enough control on the outside to have someone keeping an eye on his dame. We see him getting some bad news regarding his lady friend and obviously, he gets angry and tells his bodyguard that he needs to get out now.
We go back in time to 1966 and we get to see where louie and Dodger met. We also see that Louie was madly in love with Carla but she was too busy hanging out with the popular crowd to pay attention to Louie. There’s a scene where Louie is being beaten up by some jocks and Dodger defends him, starting a friendship that would last for years to come. The tow of them start selling weed and pills and eventually started making some money and also started getting the attention from girls they wanted. At one point, Dodger starts falling in love with Carla, but as you might expect, she ran off wit ha quarterback instead. Louie and Dodger keep getting deeper in the underworld and eventually, they end up killing people. Over time, Louie started discussing plans for the track and stopped sung words like “we” and “ours”, Dodger knew then that there was going to be a problem. eventually, Louie pushed Dodger out of the business and ended up with Carla as well.
I won’t spoil how this book ends because it’s such a great ending that I want all of you to go out and buy it! This book was such a pleasant surprise for me and I’m glad I went with my gut instinct on this one and bought it, because it was a truly great read from start to finish. The best thing about this, there’s more where this came from and “Dodger” will be back in All Crime Comics #2. Another thing I loved about this book was that it gave me a full story, and how satisfying it was! I urge you, if you like good old fashioned crime stories, you owe it to yourselves to pick up this book. I highly recommend it!
Manuel A. Carmona is the co host of the Truthful Comics Podcast