It’s a quarter of the way through “The Kitchen,” an eight-issue series from Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle. I liked the concept as soon as I heard it, with mob wives in the ’70s taking over the businesses of their jailed husbands in Hell’s Kitchen. While the story is entertaining, I have to say that it’s Doyle’s art that’s turned out to be the real star of the show.
I love that Kath, Raven and Angie all look like sisters, but still also have their own distinct looks that helps us tell them apart. I’m not just talking about their hair colors here, either. Angie comes across visually as the most hesitant and unsure of the trio; her expressions and body language (like when Nicky Lubretzi pushes his way next to her at the table) give us her state of mind without her ever having to say a word. Kath and Raven both project a stronger core, although there’s a slightly harder edge to Kath’s visuals, and you know that at the end of the day she’s going to be the one to get things done.
Even away from the three sisters, Doyle’s art is top-notch. The shakedown in the alleyway is creepy not because of the threat of violence, but in how Doyle stages it. The victim comes across much more vulnerable and cornered than you might have otherwise seen, and I like how well Doyle is able to “zoom” in on details from one panel to the next without feeling forced or choppy. And when Kath comforts George, well, there’s no mistaking the bond between the two of them as Doyle takes that quieter scene and makes it glow.
Masters’ story is good, it’s just a little slow moving at this stage. After establishing what the three sisters are up to, this issue feels like it’s crossing a lot of the same territory. While it’s fun to see Angie start to get in the game, it’s also something that’s taking away from the arrivals of first Nicky and then Tommy. I’m also hoping that every issue won’t be ending with, “This is where the women are willing to do in order to survive,” because while it was a powerful ending for the first issue, it was already feeling a little familiar for “The Kitchen” #2. With all three of the sisters now fully in, I’d like to see things start to pick up and move into larger fields.
“The Kitchen” #2 is a good comic, and I’m still quite curious on where it’s going next. But after a slightly stronger debut, this familiarity for the second issue is a tiny bit disappointing. Here’s hoping that the exposition is fully over at this point, and we can start seeing the comic move ahead with the same strength of that first issue once more.