Detectives Inc.

Detectives Inc.: A Terror of Dying Dreams 3 (December 1987)

113784 20131105221507 largeThe ending is worse than I expected and I wasn’t expecting much. McGregor plotted these issues awkwardly, with way too much material before the actual investigation. The stuff with following the wife beating husband around in the last issue was pretty much pointless. McGregor didn’t need it to make the mystery work. In fact, he might have done it all backwards.

There are some okay moments here. There’s good banter between the leads, though McGregor doesn’t give them enough time together. They seem familiar, sure, but McGrefor never just lets them relax together. He’s always working in exposition or some plot point.

There’s some action, some unlikely surprises and a truly terrible villain. The postscript is ludicrous too, but McGregor does get some sympathy for his characters so he can sell it. The nonsense before? He can’t sell that nonsense.

Okay Colan art. Some nice angles, but too static overall.

C 

CREDITS

The Corpse In the Bloodstained Body Bag; writer, Don McGregor; artist, Gene Colan; letterer, Mindy Eisman; editor, Catherine Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse Comics.

Detectives Inc.: A Terror of Dying Dreams 2 (September 1987)

113783 20131105221241 largeThe fight scene is painful. It goes on for three or four pages–at least, two, anyway–and is impossible to comprehend thanks to Colan only doing pencils. It’s like a sketch of a fight scene, not an actual realized sequence.

There’s some good art, of course. Colan isn’t going to do a comic without some good art in it. Most of the good art is for the establishing pages at the beginning of each chapter–there are three or four this issue. More than two. Colan takes his time with the scenery. His pencils are less rough too. There are definite lines.

As for the story, again the best part is when Denning is off on his date. It’s a very awkward romantic sequence, not too graphic, but trying very hard to be suggestive. McGregor’s writing an honest scene though. The rest of the issue feels perfunctory in comparison.

C 

CREDITS

Knishes and Boardwalk Surveillance; writer, Don McGregor; artist, Gene Colan; letterer, Mindy Eisman; editor, Catherine Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse Comics.

Detectives Inc.: A Terror of Dying Dreams 1 (June 1987)

81754 20131105220709 largeI feel like A Terror of Dying Dreams should be a little better. Gene Colan does the art–just pencils, no inks; it’s good art but Don McGregor’s script doesn’t just play to Colan’s strengths, it plays to his standards. Inexplicably enormous scary mansion in the New York area? Check. Urban blight? Check. Even the one fight scene looks like every Colan fight scene.

There’s some reality to those sequences usually absent from Colan’s mainstream work. The fight scene is a social worker fighting back against an abusive husband who’s targeting her. The urban blight is one of the leads, Rainier, hanging around at nudie bars on Broadway. McGregor’s trying hard to update the miserable detective but doesn’t have much for him to do.

The other lead, Denning, is dealing with his mother’s illness. Those scenes are beautifully written, but Colan’s out of his element on them.

Still, ambitious stuff.

B 

CREDITS

Cheerful Lies and Desperate Truths; writer, Don McGregor; artist, Gene Colan; letterer, Mindy Eisman; editor, Catherine Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse Comics.

Detectives Inc. 2 (April 1985)

52544 20070630065814 largeI love this comic. McGregor throws a whole lot of story at Rogers–I don’t think I’ve ever read another comic with one or two page “chapters” where there’s so much content. Rogers is probably fitting two to four pages of content onto each page. It’s amazing stuff, especially given Rogers also has a lot of design going on. And the dialogue; Detectives Inc. is a talking heads book where the people move around a lot.

But what’s so good about the issue is McGregor’s determination. He loses track of Denning, who actually does the investigating, and concentrates on Rainier, whose self-examination following hostility towards their lesbian client brings him to a new place.

McGregor only hints at all the factors at play–basic machismo, post-divorce wounding, being a vet–yet the subtlety all works. The mystery resolution’s somewhat anti-climatic, but who cares… McGregor and Rogers rock.

A- 

CREDITS

A Hostile Poolside Universe; writer, Don McGregor; artist, Marshall Rogers; colorist, Tim Smith; letterer, Tom Orzechowski; editor, Tom Orzechowski; publisher, Eclipse Comics.

Detectives Inc. 1 (April 1985)

324019Marshall Rogers packs an incredible amount of information onto each page of Detectives, Inc. He’s got tiny little action panels, tiny little reaction panels, but every one of them works. His detail is precise while he’s still designing these great pages.

Don McGregor’s script is good and confrontational. There’s a lot of purple prose for exposition, but it definitely adds to the hard-boiled, world-weary tone. But the confrontational aspects are different–the leads are a black guy and a white guy, Army buddies who form a detective agency. The black guy’s better adjusted, while the white guy has an odious racist ex-wife.

Their case–McGregor opens with the resolution to one, which is neat–involves a lesbian couple. McGregor takes the time to examine how the white guy’s reacts. It isn’t just McGregor not avoiding something, he’s really doing a thorough examination of his character.

Good comic.

A- 

CREDITS

A Remembrance of the Threatening Green; writer, Don McGregor; artist, Marshall Rogers; colorist, Tim Smith; letterer, Tom Orzechowski; editor, Tom Orzechowski; publisher, Eclipse Comics.

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