Chin Music #1 Review

By: Rob Neil Gruszecki

            The sound of a pin carving into metal reverberates around the dingy office. Scratching an eerie text into the tip of a bullet that illuminates mystically as it is being created. The messy office room is no stranger to liquor and magical etchings that have been sliced into the furniture, displaying a wide array of incantations and sigils. A candle is placed in the centre of the wheel chipped into the desk’s surface with ancient symbols and orientations that draws the energy towards the middle. Lighting the candle only after lighting a smoke the strange occupant of the office loads his revolver and fires out his window into the unknown.

Chin Music takes us back to the rise of Al “Scarface” Capone and the endless conquest spearheaded by Eliot Ness with the goal to bring down the bootlegger and notorious gangster. A journey into a revisionary work that integrates elements of magic, horror and superhuman ability makes the first issue an exciting and brutal new take on the legend of the rise and fall of the American Mafia. Filled with graphic and grotesque imagery whether it be of a recently decimated corpse crawling through a dessert wasteland or a unit of intensely powerful cultists with burning red eyes, Chin Music starts off with a very mysterious and frightening first chapter.


From the creator of 30 Days of Night, Criminal Macabre and the recent Transfusion, Steve Niles scripts this new and very unique crime/horror amalgam that is very sparse in dialogue or word balloons but slick with its storytelling. Niles has a way of scripting very minimalistic that keeps the pacing in his book rapid but smooth. You really get a feel for his tone and voice even though it is mostly quiet which makes his writing very tense and dramatic. When it comes to not cluttering up the page with balloons and narrative boxes, Niles has mastered stuffing his comics full of substance, character development and atmosphere while not having to waste any words.


Tony Harris handles the art in Chin Music and forms the other half of an excellent team on this new series from Image. His style at times borders on a cartoonish take on the material which makes for an even stranger approach to the already supernatural premise. His work differs greatly from what you might be familiar with from Ex Machina or Starman but fits perfectly with the flow of the book. With such a quiet component dialogue wise it is all up to Harris’ ability as a visual storyteller for many of the pages and what he conjures is a complete success, transitioning very effortlessly and keeping the pace quick and encapsulating.


With one of the coolest surprises in store for the final page and a complete package both fast and action oriented to enjoy, Chin Music is a worthy investment from an imprint that has continuously produced the peak in creator owned comics over the past few years. Chin Music issue number one is a start to an ongoing comic that puts the best of both Steve Niles and Tony Harris on display and doesn’t restrain either of their strengths.


Rob Neil Gruszecki is a writer, musician, podcaster and Wednesday Warrior

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