Dark Horse has been on a tear recently, delivering a slew of books both well crafted and memorable. Their newest release from creator Frank Barbiere looks to continue the trend in the form of the stylish noir thriller, The White Suits.
The White Suits starts with a literal bang, the story so fast and mean it almost dares you to try and guess what’s next. We quickly meet our protagonist, an unnamed, unkempt gentleman with a dark past and a worse memory. Seems he has retrograde amnesia, his past life nothing but feelings and flashes that leave him grasping for answers. What he does have is a particular set of skills, those same skills attracting the attention of one not-so-subtle tail…. Elsewhere in the city, members of the criminal underworld witness a nightmare come to life – The White Suits. Thought to be an urban legend, the kind of bogeyman tale told to young gangsters as they’re being tucked into bed, the White Suits are very real and very, very dangerous. Lethal and unyielding (and known for their signature white apparel), the Suits are out for blood with plenty of thugs in their way. Are they assassins? Power grabbers? Katana wielding, machine gun spraying murderers? No one who knows talks and no one who talks lives.
Like a white-hot knife Barbiere’s words cut to the point, the story almost breathless in its pace. His story is doused in smoke and intrigue, plots springing outward in a complex web of connections, seemingly offering ten questions to every answer. The script is tight, Barbiere’s exposition limited to the central character’s boozy musings. At first I felt that restraint left the book feeling more flash than substance, but it’s about the mood, baby, and the atmosphere he creates is magnetic. It’s not all flash either; in just one issue he sets up the story, defines the criminal hierarchy, introduces the titular Suits, and adds some honest to goodness mystery for good measure. This is noir done right.
Of course, none of the moving parts would flow quite so well without artist Toby Cypress. His art is a total trip, the book’s in-your-face style exploding from panel to panel with an inky savagery. Faces twist and contort, limbs stretch and lunge in exaggerated and almost surrealist expression. Angles rise and dip, creating dramatic emphasis in even the quieter scenes (of which there are few). There’s an edge to the visuals that fits the narrative perfectly, each frenetically styled page sinking you deeper into the seedy world the characters inhabit. The artist also uses color to great effect, dotting the book’s black and white tones with splashes of eye catching red. Cypress gives the book a vibe all its own, and it’s one that will definitely bring readers back for more.
The White Suits is a shot of adrenaline in four-color form, a nasty, sprawling debut that gets better with every page. Barbiere and Cypress are in perfect sync with their storytelling, the book humming with an uncontainable energy. If you’re a fan of hard boiled noir action and devious ne’er-do-wells, this is the series for you.