Two guys in a room talking. That’s pretty much all that this issue is, two guys in a room talking. One is a police officer, the other an accused murderer, and it’s all about the two men dancing around each other. By all rights, this comic should be a drag, a slow and dull conversation that maybe leads to something greater. But this comic takes place in the real world. Just like in our world, there is nothing greater than the power of a great conversation. And the story moves along in unexpected and interesting ways, thanks to the terrific work by Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith.
Fell is a detective in an unnamed large city. He’s the kind of detective who is powerful because of his striking intelligence and penetrating insight. Illustrated by Ben Templesmith as a thoughtful man with an almost glowing shock of blonde hair atop his head, Detective Fell spends much of this issue systematically and thoughtfully forcing the killer to confess his crimes. In fact, his goal is not just to get the killer to confess, but to completely break the killer, to gain power over the killer by destroying his psyche. Fell’s intelligence is a weapon even greater than a gun, a powerful destructive force that directly leads to the truth. Readers can feel the detective’s intensity, and his intense world made at least me want to know much more about this seemingly very complex and interesting man.
I’ve run hot and cold on Warren Ellis’s work in the past, but this really is superlative work. Aside from some small British touches in this American story, everything seems to be note-perfect, from the funny secretary at the beginning to the wonderfully moving ending. And Templesmith’s art and use of the traditional nine-panel grid help to intensify the comic, giving it an ideal claustrophobic look and feel.
I didn’t know what to expect from this comic when I picked it up, but I was thrilled and surprised to find this to be absolutely terrific.