REVIEW: Noir Burlesque – Part 1 (2021)

A Graphic Novel by Enrico Marini

Most American comic fans will recognize Enrico Marini as a recent collaborator on DC Comics Batman books with his series, Batman: The Dark Prince Charming gaining critical praise a few years back. For fans wanting more of his style, look no farther than Noir Burlesque, a new comic from Europe Comics. It harkens back to the cigar smoke tinged films of yesteryear full of brooding anti-heroes battling their own cynicism, fatalism, and moral ambiguity just to stay alive in a city that would rather have them dead. Pour yourself a glass of whiskey (or I guess a “White Slick”) and curl up with this book, it’s equal parts exciting and titillating, and all class.

“After a hold-up gone wrong, Slick finds himself deep in the red with local mafia boss Rex. But that’s not the only thing setting them at odds: they also have their sights set on the same woman, the beguiling Caprice. She’s engaged to Rex and headlines his club, where she thrills the nightly crowds. She’s off-limits, but Slick has never been one for limits. And he has unfinished business with Caprice, who was once his own sweetheart before the war pulled them apart. After all these years, there’s no love lost between them, but that doesn’t mean the old spark isn’t alive… And now, they’re playing with fire. Taking inspiration from the Hollywood noir films of the 1950s, Enrico Marini delivers a gritty graphic novel combining crime, love, jealousy, and betrayal.”

The star of this book is unquestionably the artwork. Consisting of a black and white palette with flashes of bright red here and there, it’s truly a feast for the eyes. I felt myself looking over the pages, studying every frame more than I usually do with books like this just because I liked the lines so much. It doesn’t hurt that gorgeous women are plastered over every page either. I’ve seen a few other books do this, and it’s always something I like seeing when it happens. Sometimes, the minimalism of a reduced color selection really makes things “pop” moreso than something packed full of colors.

The storyline is somewhat cliché, but honestly when folks get a noir comic, I think there is an expectation of what the contents will be. If this went on some weird tangent, I bet it would alienate some of the people excited for this. It has all of the trappings of any movie that glamorizes post prohibition era crime stories: would-be mobsters in ill-fitting suits, corrupt cops, sexy burlesque dancers, and your typical working-class Joe that nearly died in the war, only to find it hard to reintegrate into society.

While it breaks no new ground, Noir Burlesque is a competent classic-styled noir crime thriller that keeps the action going all the way through. Hopefully volume two comes out sooner than later because this was left on a hell of a cliffhanger, not to mention the thing we saw at the very beginning of the book. If you like film noir or neo noir stories, Europe Comics have had quite a few solid titles like this – Contrapasso, Blacksad, and to a degree Days of Sand. I’d recommend this along with all of those, as they always release quality content.

If you are interested in this book, click HERE.

NOTE: I received a free preliminary, and likely unedited copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of providing an honest, unbiased review of the material. Thank you to all involved.

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