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Propped up by incredible artwork, Second Chances #1 takes an entertaining yet generic plot and makes it exciting through pure style.
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Review: Visually Stunning Neo-Noir In SECOND CHANCES #1

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Writer Ricky Mammone and artist Max Bertolini team up for a heavy dose of neo-noir action in Second Chances #1. With DC Hopkins on letters, this first issue debuts a generic but entertaining plot and bolsters it through sheer stylistic drive. With solid narration and outstanding visuals, Second Chances is off to a damn good start.

“Second Chances Hotline—call now and get a new identity! All you need is some cash, a proper referral, and a very good reason to start over. When Leblanc, the man behind the hotline, is approached by a shady figure from his past, he’s forced to accept a new client who doesn’t meet any of the requirements—a client with chemically induced amnesia in desperate need of protection.”

Writing & Plot

The script for Second Chances #1 is a good example of taking a well-worn concept and dusting it off well enough to keep it engaging. Ricky Mammone’s script isn’t going to surprise any neo-noir fans. The entire “second chance at life” fixer angle in a crime story isn’t new. However, there are some refreshing elements that keep this story exciting. Mammone glosses over Leblanc’s life and past, making for true noir goodness. His story interweaves with the b-plot following our main secondary character (no spoilers). The overall plot development is well-conducted and makes the audience do a bit of headwork to make sense of events.

Mammone manages to take predictable plot beats and make them engaging enough to stay intrigued. Stylistically, he knows how to let the art speak. There are numerous moments where the script just lets the visuals do the storytelling via good direction. Mammone’s external and internal dialogue uses just the right amount of genre-influenced and stylized cheese to really sell the noir experience. This script won’t be breaking any boundaries in the genre but it’s a fun enough ride to keep things interesting.

Art Direction

The real selling point for Second Chances #1 is the astounding visual work from Max Bertolini. The artist’s heavily inked black and white panels are stunning and atmospheric, making for the perfect setting to place this noir tale in. Bertolini immaculately crafts details with almost labyrinthine precision. You can get lost in the penciling and inking done on every page. Character designs and animations are all unique and instantly recognizable. Each person is designed with striking features, such as Leblanc’s hair or some mysterious hitwoman’s tattoos.

The city environments look incredible and threatening. Bertolini takes a classic noir design mechanic by making the urban environment look actively menacing. The action sequences are phenomenal as well, with character movement and gunfire exploding through the panels with kinetic force. The lettering from DC Hopkins fit the noir atmosphere perfectly as well. His italicized, rough font reads like you would imagine noir dialogue to sound, like it’s coming from a 1940 microphone. The entire visual experience of this comic is outstanding.

Verdict

Second Chances #1 is written well and beautifully drawn. Ricky Mammone’s script is entertaining and well paced, doing just enough to keep itself separated from the neo-noir genre. Max Bertolini’s visuals are gorgeous, with some of the most striking art seen in any comic this year. Be sure to pick up this comic when it hits shelves on 8/18!

Justin Munday
Reader and hoarder of comics. Quietly sipping coffee, reading, and watching sci-fi in Knoxville, TN.