The PopCult Bookshelf
Some of you may remember a few months ago when I plugged the Kickstarter campaign for this graphic novel in the PopCult Bookshelf. I kicked in for it myself and my copy arrived last week. What we have here is a solid science fiction procedural cop drama. This book is intended for mature audiences, with some language, violence and nudity, but what we really have here is a quality R-rated Action Movie, presented as a graphic novel.
“DENVER” is set in the future after an asteroid has hit the moon, causing first a week long shower of deadly debris and then, with the moon’s orbit disturbed, a tremendous change in the tidal forces of the planet which causes the water level to rise rapidly and engulf most of the land. Only a few areas of high elevation remain and the only one with a stable government is Denver, Colorado.
We pick up the story many years after this has happened and the island nation of Denver maintains its balance by keeping its population level at exactly two million people. There are boat people at sea who can only be admitted if someone on land passes away. With such a complex and well delineated back story, it’s almost a shame that we only get one small story set in this fascinating world.
We meet Max Flynn, a border cop who patrols the waterfront (because that is the entire border). Max and his partners, Jane and Jimmy, are admitting a couple of boat people who have been approved to enter the city. Unfortunately, during a strip search, they discover that the woman is hiding a newborn baby and they’re only approved to admit two people. Violence ensues.
The next day, Max’s wife is kidnapped by terrorists who blackmail him into letting contraband into the city. At this point, I don’t want to give any more of a synopsis of the plot. The story is a terrific blend of classic action movie elements, with echoes of “Judge Dredd,” “Die Hard,” “Blade Runner,” and “The French Connection.” “DENVER” is a hardcore cop drama with terrific twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Palmiotti and Gray are one of the hottest writing teams working in comics, with memorable stints writing “Jonah Hex,” “Harley Quinn,” “Daredevil: Dark Nights,” and “Power Girl.” They weave a complex and compelling thriller with believable characters, a realistic “universe,” and plenty of intrigue and action.
Brito, who has worked on “Daredevil,” “Silver Surfer,” and “Lobo,” makes his return to the graphic novel format after spending several years working in advertising. His artwork is perfectly suited for this book, with dynamic layouts, consistent and recognizable characters, and brilliant composition. We should also take a moment to acknowledge the lettering and design by Bill Tortolini. His work really adds a lot to an already excellent book.
An interesting bonus is the musical soundtrack by Hans Karl, with contributions from Carrie Johnson and Libby Johnson which was a digital download incentive for the campaign. It’s a nice extra and it really adds to the cinematic quality of the story.
This is a physically impressive graphic novel, with thick, formidable paper stock. The story is just 72 pages, but feels much more substantial than the page count indicates. There are also bonus sketch pages and pin ups that probably won’t be reprinted in later editions.
The bad news about “Denver” is that, if you didn’t contribute to the Kickstarter campaign for it, you can’t get it, at least not yet. Let’s quote from the campaign page:
“This Kickstarter project will be the only place to get the package rewards offered. Eventually we plan to publish the book elsewhere for retailers with a different cover, but till that time in the future, it will only be available here for our Kickstarter supporters!”
So unless you were paying attention when I plugged the Kickstarter page, you won’t be able to get your hands on this gem for a few months. I will let you know when the book hits the mass-market here in the PopCult Bookshelf. It will be well worth the wait.
(Disclosure Time: Since I kicked in on this, my name appears in the book, along with over 1,500 folks who ponied up for “DEMVER”)
EVEN MORE FROM KICKSTARTER
My friend Terri Lynn Coop has started a campaign to finance the publication of “Devil’s Deal: A Juliana Martin Novel.”
This one is a prose novel, not a graphic novel, but it’s thematically very close to “DENVER.” Let’s quote from the Kickstarter page for the background:
“DEVIL’S DEAL is proof of the old adage that the most important work at a writers conference often takes place in the bar after dinner. A conversation with a literary agent that started with “Now, if she was more like Jack Reacher and traveled around in her camper righting wrongs … ” led to this book.
I had the drive from Houston to Kansas to think about it (including a decent delay after getting profiled and pulled over by a drug interdiction task force, now that’s a story for the bar at a conference.) The next summer, DEVIL’S DEAL, under the original working title of PRO HAC VICE, beat out several hundred entries to win the 2013 Claymore Award for best unpublished novel at Killer Nashville.
After a year with more excitement than I needed (losing my roof to an epic hail storm, followed by a flood, having to move, all while making a living,) it is time to get Juliana and Ethan’s story out there. Your pledge acts as both as a pre-order and support for the final technical and structural details of editing and formatting. Please know how much it is appreciated.
Here’s the premise of the book:
Attorney Juliana Martin is on the run after a battalion of cops armed with warrants swarm the family firm. When the law catches up with her at sunrise, they make a deceptively simple offer.
For Special Agent Ethan Price, this op is his ticket out of Texas and an escape from the train wreck of his personal life. Banking on his brooding good looks and easy smile, Ethan also has an off-label assignment that seemed easy in planning, but is turning out to be much more difficult in execution.
What the profilers hadn’t considered is that the woman Ethan was perfect for might also be perfect for him.
Posing as a couple desperate to flee the country, Juliana and Ethan infiltrate the client’s Austin smuggling operation. What they don’t know is that they were burned before they’d even put Dallas in the rear view mirror. Luckily the problem is nothing that twin magazines with a 15-shell capacity can’t handle. “
This sounds like a great thriller, and it’s almost ready to be unleashed on the world. You can Kick in now and grab what will someday be an ultra-rare first edition of the first Juliana Martin book!