Tyler Cross: Black Rock by Fabien Nury, Bruno and Laurence Croix #BookReview

Fearless and effortlessly suave, Tyler Cross proves crime does pay in the thrills of living life on the edge.

No man is an island – except for Tyler Cross. A criminal for hire, he’s the best at what he does, whether he’s trafficking drugs or spraying bullets in a shoot-out – everyone’ll pay big bucks for Tyler. Follow his embroilment with drugs, women and gangsters in a violent adventure that he may not survive.

Title: Tyler Cross: Black Rock | Author: Fabien Nury, Bruno and Laurence Croix | Series: Tyler Cross #1 | Publisher: Titan Comics | Pages: 100 | ISBN: 9781785867309 | Publication date: 11th September 2018 | Source: Review copy received from publisher

‘Tyler Cross: Black Rock’ is amoral, brutal, lean and wryly amusing, just like a noir should be. It draws on familiar tropes from decades of movies and books, but manages to do so in a way that feels fresh and exciting rather than lazy. The end result is a satisfying, blisteringly fast paced graphic novel with enough heart to offset the violence and enough violence to make it fun.  

Tyler Cross is a gun for hire in 1950s America. The job he’s on goes bad in a big way, leaving him on the run in the desert with 17 kilos of heroin and 20 dollars to his name. He ends up in small town run by men who are badder than him and who mistake him for an easy target. The rest of the tale pretty much writes itself.  

It’s a plot that is so familiar it feels like the stuff of legend rather than a simple story. It’s one that has been told and retold in countless westerns and thrillers over the years because it satisfies in so many ways. It reassures us that one person can make a difference and that no-one is beyond redemption. What makes this version of it work as well as it does is the attention Fabien Nury pays to the incidental characters. Cross is absolutely the lead, and his hardboiled third person narration is a delight to read. For instance, in a gunfight near the start: 

The first two are killed by their own stupidity. Tony should have held his tongue. Ike should have held his fire. Got down and let his partners deal with it. The next few are killed by Tyler and CJ. Shotgun and a pair of forty-fives. A deadly combination.  

But he is a cipher, a deliberate noirish cliché. The richness of the book comes from scenes and back stories that come from the people of the town Cross ends up in. Even in one memorable page from a snake. These interludes make the reader actually care about what is happening rather than just lapping up the relentless action.  

I’ve always been more about the words than the pictures when it comes to comic books, but it’s worth mentioning how great the artwork from Bruno (art) and Laurence Croix (colours) is. The simple, cartoonish style brings to mind the old Dick Tracy strips and it works perfectly for the story.  

All the above is a wordy way of saying that if you’re looking for some comic book noir with the bite of Jim Thompson and the visual flair of a John Woo movie you need a bit of Tyler Cross in your life.  In fact even if you think you don’t like comic books I’d recommend giving it a go.  

4/5

Note: I received a copy of this for review consideration in my role as a reviewer for scifiandscary.com – given that it’s subject matter doesn’t fit with the scope of that site (SF and Horror), I am reviewing in on CriminOlly instead.

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