Reviews

Deadly Cocktail, Perfect Mix: Styles Clash in Blue Estate 3

Michael D. Stewart
My, How Lions Share: The skillfully scripted Alyosha the Lion, Uzbek gangster and LAPD snitch is just one example of the cool command writer and creator Viktor Kalvachev brings to Blue Estate.

Even in meeting the demands of the crime noir genre, and giving the story a cooling off period Viktor Kalvachev brings an intensity to Blue Estate.

Blue Estate #3

Publisher: Image
Length: 22 pages
Writer: Viktor Kalvachev, Kosta Yanev, Andrew Osborne
Price: $2.99
Publication Date: 2011-08
Amazon

Through issues one and two, Image Comics’ pulp series Blue Estate has been nearly cinematic. It has introduced an array of colorful characters including a recovering alcoholic starlet, her hitman AA sponsor, an inept private eye, and a clumsy mobster. It’s a mix of Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie films, with a generous helping of Elmore Leonard novels and a twist of absurdist comedy.

To say this is not your father’s pulp noir is a fair statement. Though Blue Estate is unabashedly inspired by some of the best crime fiction in the last 20 years, it still remains unique in its presentation and tone. With issue three, the series slows down the pace to sure up the narrative and remind readers that there is a strong interwoven plot to go along with its darkly entertaining characters.

In the mighty southern California jungle of LA the lion doesn’t sleep but snorts coke anyway he can – including with a semi-automatic handgun just to throw a mobster buddy off guard. Issue three introduces the crazy Uzbek Alyosha the Lion, a drug smuggler turned stool pigeon for the LAPD. He may be incompetent at smuggling, but he sure can do drugs like a hall-a-famer. And like so many of the characters in Blue Estate, Alyosha screams off the page and into our pop culture hearts, strumming and doping like the rock star he is, as the LAPD and his clumsy mobster target look on in amazement.

Everything is connected – in the narrative sense and in the relationship sense. The characters’ interpersonal relationships, and the relation of their actions to the rest of the story, are on full display as Blue Estate settles into that soft middle. This is the point of third issues. Like the mix tape metaphor in previous reviews of this series, the same holds true for issue three. After raising the stakes and the action for two issues, it’s time to start cooling things off before it gets too hot. Peaks are always followed by valleys – it’s what makes you appreciate the peaks. But don’t be fooled by the slowing pace, there is still a lot going on in this third issue.

The narrative structure demands a cooling off period and with that comes cementing of the plot and relationship of the characters. Inept private eye Roy Devine, Jr. and his adoptive LAPD Detective father don’t have the most nurturing of relationships and the cause and effect of that strain is hinted at being something of a drive for Junior. It’s an element that grounds the story as the more violent and comedic aspects play out.

As for the artwork, Viktor Kalvachev continues to direct the action, design, interior art and colors. The artists assembled around him – Toby Cypress, Nathan Fox and Robert Valley – use their varying styles to full effect so that the shifting illustration styles within the issues showcase different times and perspectives. The use of multiple artists also allows Blue Estate to move at a faster and more dynamic pace. Panels and flow are not static and predictable, and readers ebb and flow with the comic as the scenes change.

For the first two issues the color scheme was quite dominate so that changes in pencillers didn’t throw the reader off too much. Now with issue three, the color work becomes a bit looser, allowing each scene to take on its own lighting. It’s a cinematic technique that Kalvachev thoroughly invests in to stunning and brilliant results.

Refocusing on the characters, we know that even mobsters and stooges have lives and go through some of the same struggles we do, like how do you get blood out of your work clothes? How much would your mens fashion house bill be if you can’t dry clean blood stains? Replace blood with coffee and you have just about any office place story.

For all the celebrity seediness, E! True Hollywood style mockery, cocaine kings and bumbling mobsters, Blue Estate at its heart is a fascinating experiment in sequential storytelling. Like many of the other pioneers of the medium, the comic takes great pains to present an assessable story – one that resonates strongly with our post-modern ironic understanding of pop culture. The weird characters aside, this is a traditional crime story told in a non-linear fashion. The characters are the point, but the story that guides us through their lives is just as tough and brawny.

9

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image