The only thing I had to go on in regards to Killing Pickman was the fact that I’ve enjoyed every book that I’ve read from Archaia so far. So with that said, Killing Pickman is yet another fantastic title in their very diverse catalog of books. From the minute Richard Pickman is introduced, you know something just isn’t right, as he’s being questioned in his home by Detective Bill Zhu. A child has been missing, and after bizarre events her location is revealed and Pickman is lying in a pool of blood. However, things aren’t what they seem, as there’s a very dark supernatural element at work here, and Zhu is going to find out just how hard it is to kill Pickman.
There’s something to be said about a good crime/horror story that yanks you in during the first few pages and holds you there until it’s finished with you. Becker hits all the right beats during the progression of the story and establishes a damn good group of characters here. All of them are written to their respective roles without anyone feeling like a throw away character. From Zhu’s wife to his partner, Becker makes sure that they are solidified enough to enhance the overall story. So many things build on one another that you have to read it a couple of times to see if you missed something which isn’t a bad thing. Each chapter is prefaced with an excerpt from Beowulf that ties into what you’re about to read and enhances the overall feel. Also, within Rea’s artwork are various captions that have a range from creepy to funny to just informative. None of them should be overlooked as they take you further into the story. There is a lot happening in Killing Pickman which does become familiar at times, but Becker manages to pace out the mystery within quite well.
The mood is also kept consistent by Rea’s artwork that maintains a very dark and foreboding tone throughout the story. It does lighten up at times so it doesn’t become overwhelming, but at no point will it lead you to assume everything is going to work out just fine. The various action scenes are also handled with the brutality and violence you would expect from a gritty story like this. A couple of times it was a bit distracting (to me) when some panels looked overly sketchy towards the end that threw off certain scenes. Though I won’t go into detail, because I’m trying to keep this review spoiler free for those who are new to the book like I was. A couple of pages of the story were made to look as if they were drawn on a yellow legal pad, and it totally worked for this story as odd as it looked at first. Some pages are even given a worn look while others seem as if they were taken from a scrapbook and fixed to the page. All of these elements help tell the story in a way that Becker doesn’t, but tells it just as well.
Everything in Killing Pickman syncs up perfectly to deliver another great title from Archaia. So if you weren’t one of the lucky people who were able to pick this up earlier this year during NYCC 2011, now is your chance to see what this book is all about.