Sunday, May 7, 2017

Peepland - a Hard Case Crime Comic

And they lived happily ever after...NOT!

Christa Faust is no stranger to hard-hitting stories. When I first saw Peepland advertised in the Titans Comics section of Previews, I immediately recognize Faust, as she had authored several horror books that I have read (including a Friday the 13th novel, a Nightmare on Elm Street novel, and the movie novelization of Final Destination 3). Thus, I not only knew she was a great writer, but I knew she wasn't afraid to tell a killer story!

Published under the "Hard Case Crime" imprint, Peepland tells the story of New York City at the end of 1986 - back when Times Square was still filled with dirty bookstores, porn-film theaters, and live peepshows.  It's the underbelly of New York and the people who lived and worked there.  Faust takes us not just into the adult-side of things, but also into these girls' homes and their regular lives filed with heartache and misery.

Roxy, one of the performers, is the main characters - and her story begins when a regular customer bursts into her booth, hides a video tape on the inside of the cushioned chair, and tells Roxy to leave it there until he comes back for it.  Which, naturally, he never does, because he is killed by two goons who push him in front of an oncoming subway.  Roxy knows something is up, so she takes the tape and passes it on to her fellow co-worker and friend, Aiesha, to hide for her.  It goes without saying that this tape holds something very important - something worth killing for - and soon enough, Roxy and her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Nick, discovery what that something is - a murder, caught on tape!

While there's never any mystery as to who the killer is, the stakes are high in this roller coaster ride of a tale, with unexpected twists every time you turn around.  No one is exactly who they seem, and some people will do just about anything to cover-up the truth of the murder.  And when Aiesha's son, Lorenzo, is accused of the crime, Aiesha's girlfriend convinces her brothers to pull off a high-stakes robbery to get enough money for Aiesha to hire a lawyer to save her son.  Of course, there's also the witness to the crime, who comes forward to tell what she knows and ask the police for protection - problem is, the detective she asks happens to be on the payroll of the one man who wants this murder covered-up - at any cost!

Faust pulls absolutely no punches with this story, and there are several unexpected and rather heart-breaking deaths throughout the tale.  Just when you start to feel for these characters, when you think you know who will survive, who will not, BAM!  Faust gives readers a hard core, hard crime story that will leave you breathless, yet wanting for more.

And Andrea Camerini's art is so perfectly fitting for the story - the characters are harrowed and flawed, the backgrounds are dirty and shadowed, and you can literally feel the Times Square grit as the story flows from panel to panel.  Kudos to Titan Comics for selecting the perfectly fitted artist for this tale.

This is one story that I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND to anyone who enjoys a good noir detective / murder mystery tale - it's gripping, it's fast-paced, it's engaging, and it will keep you hoping then dash them all  up until that very last panel.  Because, just like real life, there is no happy ending in the world of Peepland.

RATING:  10 live nude peep shows out of 10 for giving readers a crime noir story that kicks you in the gut, but leaves you 100% satisfied.

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