For their first crime-noir book, Dynamite Entertainment has chosen to do the English translation of the French album “Du Plomb dans la Tete” with this week’s “Bullet to the Head” #1. Since this series is the breaking up of a single work into a serial story that it was never intended to be, the structure of this first issue is off a little, but holds together better than you would think with it divided into two parts: the lead-up and execution of a murder, and the immediate aftermath with the police. It’s hard to say what the larger picture is yet, but Colin Wilson’s art carries this issue with brilliant storytelling and art.
The first half of the issue focuses on Jimmy and Louis, two hitmen waiting until the right time to go after their target. This part of the issue is very relaxed, almost like something out of the beginning of “Pulp Fiction,” as the two discuss shoes and their differences in Europe and America. While Matz doesn’t have the dialogue skills of Tarantino, he tells us a lot about both of the characters from their discussion, setting the tone for the book in the process. Throughout this, Wilson alternates between the two in their car and showing their surroundings, bringing the bad neighborhood they’re in to life, giving a sense of place. It’s a lively, fun way to begin the story.
The actual murder and the getaway don’t deviate from the set-up. Jimmy and Louis are still talking throughout, including a funny bit revolving around Louis stepping in dog crap, playing off his insistence on the importance of expensive shoes and giving the sense that something may go wrong with the hit. While nothing does, yet, it provides a moment of humor and tension. After the murder, the story shifts to the police investigating the murder of the senator and it becomes more dry and filled with details essential to the plot of future issues. This does make the issue end on a bit of slow period in the story, especially since the whole story of Jimmy and Louis doing the hit could be a self-contained short story by itself and be worthwhile reading.
Wilson’s art has a rich texture and flavor to it suiting the subject matter. He gets across the gritty nature of the Brooklyn neighborhood where the killing takes place, giving the buildings a sense of age and the residents a poor, urban feel. Jimmy and Louis are interesting looking killers, making their discussion visually fun to go along with the dialogue. Wilson is great at drawing characters that aren’t attractive, that look like they’ve lived in the real world and haven’t lived very nice lives. He’s also very good at taking his time with characters and scenes, letting them play out slowly, drawing out necessary details, and establishing a good rhythm.
“Bullet to the Head” #1 has the first 26 pages of “Du Plomb dans la Tete” with the main focus on the killing that sets the story into motion. It’s an entertaining issue that stops at a somewhat random place and, will no doubt, read better in collection since that’s its original form. But, fans of crime comics like “Criminal” should give this a look as it’s a looser, more relaxed story so far with a brief spurt of violence carried mostly by two characters just talking about shoes and women.