THE GENTLEMAN, available now from Evoluzione Publishing, is an intriguing new series about the exploits of a former occult detective coaxed out of retirement to help an old friend. The first two issues are a healthy mix of H.P. Lovecraft’s eldritch horror combined with Clive Barker’s Harry D’Amour occult noir.
The inaugural issues, written by Greg Anderson Elysée, follows Detective Oliver Solomon as he investigates a string of deaths which may or may not be murders carried out by supernatural forces. Magic definitely exists in this world, and Oliver (“Ollie”) uses it to his advantage in pursuit of the truth. Ollie fights with Cthulu-like demons in the present and the relationship demons of his past, where nobody is quite what they seem.
Fans of Lovecraft and Barker will get the tone right away. Elysée has created a world that’s more surreal than real, and the reader can easily accept magic as an everyday practicality here. The character of Ollie is a haunted man that struggles with the burden of his magical abilities and the toll they take on his life. Once an old friend and flame knocks on his door for help, Ollie is forced to call upon his magic to save lives while wrestling with old, emotional scars.
Elysée impresses by taking the material seriously, and not going too over-the-top with magical antics. Remove the horror element, and Elysée has created a fairly powerful detective noir drama. Every character Elysée has written has emotional depth, motivation and dimension to who they are. The horror isn’t silly or bombastic. The magical elements have a practical quality the increases the believability of the plot. If this was simply a novel, the writing could stand on its own as an excellent read. It’s that good.
Massimiliano Veltri is credited with the artwork, and it matches the tone of the writing perfectly. Veltri chose to use deep, thick lines to give the entire series a rough, charcoal-like quality. When characters are deep in thought or conversing in scenes with heavy emotional impact, Veltri’s art plays up the shadows so the reader feels the movement as much as reads about it.
Except for one fight/escape scene in the second issue, there’s very little by way of action in the series so far. That said, Veltri infuses little movements with meaning to get you inside the heads of the characters, strongly conveying feelings of regret or suspicion or conflict. It’s those small, subtle movements that keep the story moving and keep you invested in what happens next.
Favorite Panel/Page: The favorite point of the series is a scene between Ollie and Espere, starting on page 10 of issue #2. Espere, the femme fatale of the story, initiates a Quid Pro Quo game with Ollie to build trust while prying him for information. It’s a clever way to give the reader plenty of backstory on these new characters without resorting to flat narration. The ending of the scene says so much without either character saying a word.
Marco Pagnotta colored the first two issues and bumped the visuals from good to great with exceptionally shading. Veltri’s used heavy, thick lines to give each scene and character weight. It would have been easy for Pagnotta to fill in colors between the lines. Not here. Pagnotta fills every panel with gradients and filters to take Veltri’s shadows and give them depth and texture. In the second issue, Pagnotta pushed the coloring by using broad strokes to give each panel a watercolor look. The effect is very close to having a comic filled with mini paintings. It looks beautiful.
Micah Myers is on lettering duty for the first issue, and Marco Della Verde lettered the second. Ollie is constantly either monologuing or hearing the voice of the magical force within him (“The Void”). Myers and Della Verde both do an excellent job of keeping multiple inner voices separate from the external conversations. There’s more verbal conversation in the second issue, so the word balloons tend to crowd the panels slightly. However, it’s not so much that it detracts from the beautiful artwork.
The lettering is clear, it integrates with the highly-stylized artwork naturally, and the dark, internal voices pop exactly where they need to.
THE GENTLEMAN, available now from Evoluzione Publishing, stands out as a high quality, indie series. The writing is dramatic and nuanced. The art is beautiful and surreal. This series has great potential to be a classic in the occult detective genre.
Author’s Note: Local Comic Shops (LCS) are going through a tough time right now with the pandemic outbreak of COVID-19. Comics fans of every flavor that care about his or her LCS should try to do what they can. So, here’s my part:
If you’re in Northern Delaware, South East Pennsylvania, or Southern New Jersey area, please take a moment to visit Captain Blue Hen Comics in Newark, DE. Say ‘hi,’ pick up a book, order a book (they’re on Comichub.com), and let them know you support them.
If you’re nowhere near that area, please find YOUR LCS using Comic Shop Locator and lend your support.
Thanks, and stay safe.