|The Black Feather Falls #1 by Ellen Lindner|
Soaring Penguin Press/ACT-I-VATE, 2013
The comic opens, first-person, with American Tina Swift swigging from a flask in Cairo, reminiscing. We flash back to her time in postwar London working as a shopgirl in a nice part of town. She finds herself investigating the circumstances behind a mysterious death of a man found right outside her door. Part of her motivation is that the murdered man was one of the masses of war veterans forced to live homeless, unthanked, a death that the police aren't too keen on caring about. She goes to the offices of a newspaper editor, Mr. Pertwee, who seemed to promise her a job but flaked out on her. Pertwee is a no-show, but Pertwee's secretary, Ms. McInteer takes an interest and eventually Swift and McInteer agree to investigate the case.
The comic seems to start off promisingly as a slightly hardboiled period mystery but the overall execution doesn't quite hold together. Black Feather Falls is in the long tradition of the amateur detective, but the actual nuts and bolts of Swift's investigation are far too transparent. The minor story turns that drive the duo forward - the far-too coincidental connection between the victim and the absent Pertwee, or very conveniently running into someone who has a unique sweater that a friend of Swift's just happens to know about - it's all too neat, all too d.e.m.-y. I do like the setting, and the view of the recent Great War that still hurts like an open wound. And I really like Lindner's visual style (check out a few pages below). But I just don't think the art style really jives with the attempted tone of the story, nor that the tone consistently holds up.
Maybe when the story is finished I could be moved to recommend it, but the first chapter presented here is just too perfunctory and sloppily constructed. Perhaps if Lindner produced this as a graphic novel with the pacing such affords, she could have avoided the narrative traps she sets for herself here. But as a piece of serialized fiction, it just doesn't work.
Lindner debuted The Black Feather Falls 1 this weekend at SPX, and it can be read online at ACT-I-VATE. The print comic will be released in the United Kingdom from Soaring Penguin Press and in the United States direct from the author at littlewhitebird.com on October 22.