Review by Frank Plowright
With a Netflix TV film in the offing Victor Santos returned to his old assassin Black Kaiser. Books in the series are always stunningly drawn, but in 2016 No Mercy for Sister Maria had been especially lacking in plot, so has a three year absence made a difference?
Black Kaiser was introduced as a retired assassin not lacking his former capabilities when other killers came calling. After dealing with that problem he first removed himself elsewhere, shunning humanity, then involved himself in the affair of a missing Mafia wife. As the sample art shows, he remains a target.
Much of the problem with the previous outing was that it had so little in the way of plot. Here at first it appears Santos heads too far in the opposite direction, with the first third of The Kaiser Falls showing Kaiser in Florida, now no longer with his distinctive eyepatch, and occupying his time reading and having his pool cleared. As ever, the art is amazingly contrasted black and white with spot colour, but an experienced storyteller would pick up the pace. There’s finally some action when the Kaiser sets about some gang members who believe guns are protection, and that step into the spotlight renders him visible to a killer on his trail.
This is a better Polar volume overall. In fact anyone picking it up as their first is likely to be blown away. It features two distinct threats, a gun battle against the odds in an exotic location with wildlife provided, and as Santos has established Kaiser’s limitations early, coupled with the story title, there’s a constant tension. As ever, Sin City’s brutal aesthetic is a strong influence, but Santos is an exceptional artist able to acknowledge his influences as he incorporates them into work of his own.
Everything is tailored to build to a climax that’s properly paced, clever and not too long. Kaiser’s dialogue indicates he’s well aware of the tragedy in his life, and that’s underscored in the final scene. The writing still doesn’t match the art overall, but then the art is magnificent. This is the best Polar outing to date.