In 1968 and 1970 Van Morrison released Astral Weeks and Moondance. These two early albums, each with radically different sounds, would come to define his whole career. Every successive album, it could be argued, would either fit into one mode or the other. So what the hell does Van the man have to do with Jason Starr’s latest book? I think that the Vertigo Crime line’s first two books, Dark Entries and Filthy Rich, announced the course that successive books would take: either straight up realist hardboiled/noir crime or supernatural tinged crime fiction. I think that there were a number of readers who were a surprised by the latter type, I know I certainly was. The Chill by Jason Starr fits squarely in the latter type.
If memory serves The Chill has a bit of a history. In its early stages The Chill was a collaboration with Ken Bruen. In my 2006 interview with Bruen he had this to say.
Ken Bruen: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL IS WILD AND CRAZY, WE HAD THE PITCH FOR IT DONE IN ALMOST ONE DAY AND THE STORY IS TERRIFIC, USING IRISH MYTH, JASONS NEW YORK, AND ALL THE NEO NOIR WE BOTH WANT TO TRY.
Brian Lindenmuth: I find myself increasingly curious about the graphic novel. But since you and Jason aren’t tipping you’re hands yet please feel free to tell this whole section of questions to fuck off.
What genre will it be?
Ken Bruen: HORROR/SUPERNATURAL.MYSTERY.
Brian Lindenmuth: Who will the artist be?
Ken Bruen: WISH I COULD TELL YOU, HONEST.
Brian Lindenmuth: One shot deal or the hopeful start of a series?
Ken Bruen: WE’D LOVE TO DO SEVEN.
Brian Lindenmuth: Was writing for the comic medium harder, easier or just different.
Ken Bruen: JUST DIFFERENT AND FASCINATING.
Somewhere along the way Ken Bruen was no longer attached to the project and Jason Starr assumed sole authorship of the final product. How much of Bruen’s fingerprints are still on The Chill is anyone’s guess.
The final product is a fast paced supernatural thriller that involves the NY police trying to stop a killer who turns out to be an Irish supernatural creature. There is a lot of story packed into these pages, as a result the story flies. Jason Starr deftly brings in the history of these characters so we get to see how they were formed.
The ending was a knockout with a great twist that tweaks expectations in a delightfully dark way. The art has clean lines that quietly enhance the story, never becoming obtrusive. Overall The Chill is a solid edition to the Vertigo Crime line.
It’s interesting to see what crime writers are doing with the comic medium who are coming to it for the first time and Jason Starr proves to be a good match for it.