The Chill

The Chill
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Vertigo - 978-1-4012-1286-5
  • Release date: 2009
  • Format: Black and white
  • UPC: 9781401212865
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Crime, Fantasy

Vertigo appear to have been mightily impressed with signing up crime novelist Jason Starr, as his name rates a cover typeface roughly four times the size of the title, which is relegated to the bottom left of the cover. For all that, it’s a lesser light among Vertigo’s black and white pocket sized crime graphic novels.

The Chill opens in Ireland in 1967, with a young girl coming of age and learning of her genetic heritage. In New York forty years later a string of gruesome murders occur, each involving a woman that everyone describes differently, and each death having some sort of druidic significance. There is one man who knows what’s going on, a former cop in fact, but his story is so fantastic, and his background so disreputable, that no-one takes him seriously.

Starr’s plot is heavy on attention-grabbing sacrificial violence and gratuitous sex scenes, but ranks a little lower on logic. The cynical straight talking cop of the piece, Pavano, has seen the stomach-churning results of several ritual murders, yet for terms of plot convenience dismisses the person who can explain matters as a nutter. When another ritual murder occurs, he issues an arrest warrant for the person who voluntarily came to him with information. And so it continues, largely predictable throughout to a dismal ending intended to shock.

Despite his name only rating a type size a third that of Starr, it’s artist Mick Bertilorenzi who’s the class act, dragging The Chill up to something approaching acceptable. At times what’s meant to be the seedy side of New York is a little antiseptic, but that’s the only minor complaint in what’s otherwise 188 pages of well laid out story. By turns erotic, grisly and action-packed, Bertilorenzi’s stylised cast have a believable air about them, and that’s some achievement.