This week saw the debut of Chin Music, a monthly series written by Steve Niles and drawn by Tony Harris. Announced at last year’s Image Expo, Chin Music is about a man named Shaw who flees through time from his ancient enemies, landing in Prohibition-era Chicago to find himself surrounded by gangsters, law enforcement and the local supernatural underground.
So does Chin Music hit the right notes or does it fall flat? Here are a few thoughts on the first issue from around the web:
Jonathon Jacobs, Culture Mass: “The first five pages of Chin Music #1 are utterly exceptional. There’s is no dialogue, only sound effects can be found in this series of wonderfully artistic and noir-style panels. The art here is spot-on. Panels are encompassed by ritualistic styled lines and shapes that seem to match up with the cult-like symbols being carved into the character’s desk. Tony Harris’ lighting sets the perfect mood for this scene, and the luminescence from the candle is beautiful. The storytelling in these five pages is excellent and the actions are clearly defined. If only the rest of the book carried the same level of efficiency.” (5.8/10)
Julius Freeman, Geekality: “Some books come along every so often that make you scratch your head. This isn’t a bad thing, either. It could be a good thing, depending on the artists involved. Anyway, some books you don’t quite know what to think of it just yet, but you have no problem going along for the ride because you happen to find the driver interesting. The driver seems to be on the edge of some cliff, and your natural instinct is to stay as far away from that cliff as possible, but your curiosity gets the best of you and you veer off the edge with him to see what he’s looking at. So, you go along for the ride to discover what lies ahead. This is how I felt after reading Chin Music.” (4/5)
David Pepose, Newsarama: “The lack of answers also plays to Harris’s strengths. Because Niles remains surprisingly silent, you look to the artwork for some sort of direction. Well, Harris ain’t telling, but when he produces pictures that are so visceral, so moody, well, what’s there to complain about? From his horrific immolation of the unnamed skeleton man to the build-up of the Chicago cops who will cross paths with him, Harris’s photorealistic images are haunting and expressive. Harris’s use of color is fairly simple, with lots of reds and blues, but they really keep the energy of this comic high.” (9/10)
Cody Ferrell, Comic Book Therapy: “I’m not really sure what is going on with the story. If it wasn’t for the solicit info I wouldn’t know the name of the guy we’ve been reading about. Niles goes with a very unconventional story structure. There is very little dialogue and even that is bare bones. Niles is a true master of horror and storytelling, but this issue is less storytelling and more flashes of a mystery we’ll probably learn about later. When you piece together the importance of the bullet, things start to click a little.” (3/5)
Steve Paugh, Comic Bastards: “I’m not gonna lie, the reason I picked this book up was for Tony Harris’ art, and in this, the book didn’t disappoint. In fact, it’s the only thing keeping my rating from being lower. Whether he’s drawing the thick, cigar-capped sneer and glistening jowls of one of history’s most notorious crime bosses, or the bloody remains of a freshly eviscerated skeleton, Harris proves why his street cred is so well-deserved.” (2/5)
Doug Zawisza, Comic Book Resources: “I’m not sure who the characters are or are supposed to be, but Niles is clearly writing to Harris’ strengths, so much so that at times it seems as though Niles maybe developed a story to connect random images that Harris had created. By the end of the issue, however, it becomes crystal clear that this book is going somewhere other than in a confusing circle. Niles constructs a story that has more than simple black and white, bad and good. There is tragedy and calamity on a number of levels and how that defines the allegiances remains to be seen. In the interim, however, everyone is potentially good or bad, or maybe just less one or the other.” (4/5)