In the canon of important detectives and noir protagonists of the past there is Sam Spade, The Continental Op, Philip Marlowe, Lew Archer, Easy Rawlins, Elvis Cole, Thomas Black, and a handful of others. You can add to this list Ted Denning and Bob Rainer. Although first published over twenty years ago, Image Comics has chosen to reprint the chronicle of their adventures in graphic novel form. A Remembrance of Threatening Green is a delight in both terms of story and artwork. Marshall Rogers' art captures mood, expression, action, and feeling with supreme realism. His use of texture is unique in the comic book/graphic novel realm. He brings New York of the early 1980s to life. Unlike Frank Miller, however, who has 150-200 pages to work with, Roger has a mere 50 pages. There is a lot of art crammed into those fifty pages. McGregor's script, too, is condensed into these fifty pages. Many have typed text mixed with art and dialogue balloons recalling the pulp magazines of old.
The mystery behind the story is not as important as the characters themselves. The first quarter of the book is an introductory scene that shows Ted's involvement of shooting a young man threatening him and his partner. The memory and guilt haunt his thoughts. It will have repercussions for the climatic ending of the story. His partner, Bob, is suffering from the breakup of a marriage. In fact, his former love tells him of a case that he and Ted will eventually take.
The case involves the murder of a midwife's lesbian lover, Linda. The usual cast of suspects are present, and of course Denning and Rainer will be questioning each one. During the course of the story Bob and his client, Ruth, form a strong friendship. They are both mourning loss. Bob, his marriage, Ruth, the loss of her friend. There's a metaphor that develops through their relationship; green as a color of fear. Fear of the impermanence of life. Green lasts while we do not.
Few private eye comics reach the depth and characterization found in A Remembrance of Threatening Green. The fact that it was first printed twenty years ago is a testament to the truly groundbreaking status this graphic novel represents. It deserves a far wider readership than it has previously achieved. Much thanks to Image for making it available again.
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