In regards to story and plot, it’s not hard to get a good feel for the story being crafted by Niles and Harris. Somewhere in an ancient Egyptian past, our protagonist whose name has yet to be revealed (but can be found in this previous interview with Niles), finds himself on the run from devilish pursuers who strip him of his essence and leave him to die in a burning desert.
Suddenly Cairo, Egypt morphs into Cairo, Illinois as our nameless protagonist is discovered by Elliot Ness of Chicago Fed fame as the story circles back around from the opening scene, leaving readers to wonder what direction this story will be taking as ghouls and gangsters mix it up for what promises to be another great concept from the talented Niles and Harris.
For starters, Harris has dazzled comic book lovers with his idiosyncratic takes on unusual characters in the past with the stellar Starman and Ex Machina titles by telling some excellent visual narratives in ways that few artists can. Now, he steps into the horror playground of writer Steve Niles’ and doesn’t miss a beat.
The fantastic layouts and sharp transitions through the panel work take Harris to new heights as the action in this first issue of Chin Music moves like a runaway train. At the same time, the action happens so quickly in this first issue that the reader is left wondering how Harris worked such a dizzying spell of panel work to the finished end of twenty-two pages.
In regards to Steve Niles’ writing, he takes a more subtle role in this first issue by letting Harris’ art tell volumes. This is definitely a less is more approach. Much of his narrative leans on the light side of his already lean narratives and dialogue. This is an interesting direction for Niles to head when considering his larger volume of work with titles like 30 Days of Night and Criminal Macabre.
In many ways, this is a decidedly different approach by Niles that works extremely well in setting up the story. With a backdrop of noir added into this interesting horror twist, Niles makes some interesting storytelling decisions that work well for the genre and show a lot of growth for him as a writer.
Chin Music comes across as a lean narrative that embodies the characteristics of traditional noir while moving into new territory by incorporating the supernatural in a way that doesn’t cheapen or demean the genre. Certainly, there is so much more to learn about where this story is headed as Niles and Harris keep their cards close to their vest, but this first issue is crackling with potential and charisma.
Frankly, Chin Music looks exciting and fun. Put this one at the top of your pull list if you haven’t made a trip to your local comic shop yet. It’s a powder keg of a comic waiting to explode.