Jonny’s music career is beginning to take off as his violence inspired songs become hits. He has started to play the big gigs and frequent the hip parties but on the side, his other career as hired hit man, is also blossoming.
Meanwhile Jackie has a new case, one involving the music business. During her search for a guitar her path crosses with her former boyfriend, Jonny, and the consequences will be far reaching.
The plot might be fairly straight forward but Masters’ handling of it is not. The comic starts with three set pieces, each establishing character and each with the same narrative rhythm. They also set up the main bulk of the story for this issue; leading the characters and readers all to the same place. It is fascinating to see Masters draw the story together, nudging the plot and tightening the narrative so it all comes naturally together by this issues close.
The conflict between the cast drives the story while developing the characters. It is a comic about interactions and contrasts. The duality of Jonny is juxtaposed against the straight forward, black and white thinking of Jackie. The extras in the cast are there to highlight certain elements of each lead in the same way that the plot does. By the end of this issue the reader has a greater understanding of both Jackie and Jonny.
Eoin Marron’s expressive art work is flush with gesture and expression. Each scene has an establishing shot, often of an outside location, which is then followed up by mostly close ups, often with only one character in shot. This focus on the character allows Marron to control the narrative, allowing the reader only to see what Marron wants the reader to see. The occasional wide shots add additional information only when it becomes relevant to the plot or the tone.
As with previous issues the overall tone of the comic is provided by Jordie Bellaire’s colors. She injects each page with an overall feeling that grabs you the minute you turn a page. Then she alters the occasional panel to give a particular moment a punch, making it stand out on the page.
An act of violence, for example, is shrouded in red tones with a solid red background; this draws you to the panel instantly and then you read the page around it. The act of violence becomes the important part of the page and the reader is then forced to interpret the motivations and consequences by reading the surrounding panels. It creates a focal point which the narrative flows around.
The other important aspect of the comic, and helps the reader understand the character interactions, is the superb lettering by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. The speech balloons with their flat ended tails instantly gives Killer Groove a unique look. The coloring makes the speech blend with the artwork so that it fits naturally on the page and doesn’t create a barrier between the images and the speech. The complex handling of the text, changes in font style and size, adds yet another layer to the comic which is already stacked high with interacting storytelling techniques.
Killer Groove is a pulp crime story that revels in being a comic. It embraces all aspects of comic book storytelling and is a prime example of what it is possible to do with a page of art, color and text. The story is fascinating and emotionally gripping and the way that the story is being told is masterful. In the same way that Raymond Chandler wrote stories that were a pleasure to simply read, Masters and co. have produced a comic that elicits the same, all-encompassing delight just by opening the pages.