Reviewed by Ron

This review, I’m going to hit up a book that made my top ten list for 2010 when it wasn’t even finished. It’s a crime story in the vein of any classic yarn, and it’s from Image Comics. For your consideration, I present my review of Sweets, by Kody Chamberlain.

Sweets #5

Set in New Orleans in the few days leading up to Katrina, Sweets is not just a mere whodunit caper, but an intricately weaved crime drama full of suspense, twists and turns, and loss. The story follows New Orleans police detective Curt Delatte, an all-but washed up cop with a drinking problem who has just buried his only daughter, as he hunts a cold-blooded serial killer.

I know, it’s a pretty straight-forward set-up, almost sounding like Die Hard with just enough differences to keep you interested, but it’s so much more than that. There’s a real plot, plenty of intrigue, and true character development – which is something that barely exists in comics these days. Sweets is what crime stories should be. It’s loaded with red herrings, is gritty as Hell itself, and as bleak as the stubbed out end of a cigarette.

With Sweets, Kody Chamberlain does both the art and the story. The man is no stranger to the medium, having drawn several books in the past, and even plotting a few, but this is his first foray, as far as I know, into scripting, and I must say that he is a damn fine writer. Though the issues of the book were slow in coming, I was eagerly awaiting the next release so that I could know what was going to happen next. He also has a knack for this genre, giving me enough clues to allow me to make my own judgments on the killer, even if they were wrong, before the ultimate reveal. And as for the reveal, it’s not even the climax, there’s still more story after that, which makes Sweets that much better. And the end… it’s an awesome end to one of the best crime comics ever!

But what is a comic book without the art? (Well, a regular book, I guess, but I’m being rhetorical!)

Kody does an amazing job with the art in this book. It’s gritty and vibrant, but toned back and surreal. In spite of being set in New Orleans in the lead up to a hurricane, his art style and color palate make this book feel like a western – and that’s a good thing. There’s so much tension being conveyed through the art, it just adds to the white-knuckle feeling you can’t help but get while reading this. I’m big on art complimenting a story, but here, Kody takes it a step further, making the art part of the story. To say I loved it would be an understatement. What I wouldn’t give to have one of the covers from this book on my wall…

And that’s another thing: so many books purposefully mislead the reader by giving them an amazing cover followed by horrendous art that makes us want to scoop our eyes out with spoons that there’s really no point to a comic book even having cover art these days because they are, by default, just big lies. Not here! Every cover was rendered beautifully and in the same style as the interior art, so much so that it became just as much a part of the story.

I loved this book from beginning to end, as you may have gathered. The story should become the standard for crime fiction. I will throw Kody Chamberlain’s name up there with the likes of Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka when it comes to the crime story in comic format any day. If there’s a resurgence in crime comics across the industry (as there should be) it will be because of Sweets. This book was cool as hell, and I would be fool to not give it five stars! Thank you, Kody Chamberlain, for giving us this book.

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