Rating: 4/5 – The Flip Side of Mob Crime Fiction.
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.
I’ve read a lot of comics and seen a lot of movies in the sub-genre of fiction focusing on organized crime. It’s a pretty male-dominated field, the “face” of the organized crime family in fiction based on real world crime is almost universally male (taking the super-hero world of Gotham City out of the mix for the purposes of this comparison). What happens when the guys go to jail? Typically another guy runs things while the leader does his stretch behind bars, where women play a role it is typically in support of their husbands/boyfriends but it’s the men in charge of things.
The Kitchen is a story of 3 Irish gangsters in 1970s Hell’s Kitchen who land in jail and don’t have any proper support infrastructure in place for other men to step in and run their protection racket while they’re “up the river”. Jimmy Brennan’s wife Kathy takes it upon herself to step up to the plate and make sure she holds onto what is hers, and she pulls Raven and Angie (wives of the other 2 jailed gangsters) into it with her. “C’mon, with our husbands, who’s gonna f*#k with us?” she asks. As one might expect, someone is going to decline toeing the line or we wouldn’t have a story on our hands.
Writer Ollie Masters does a nice job of setting this up and moving the story along to the tipping point in this issue. What we get here is the build up, the roller coaster is being pulled up the incline to the precipice of the first drop. The meat of the story will be after the train picks up speed and hurtles through the rest of the ride. Ming Doyle’s art is fabulous, as usual. Crisp lines expertly enhanced by Jordie Bellaire’s colors that lend a gravitas to the setting that made it feel real to me as I was pulled along through the story.
Issue #1 of The Kitchen introduces the scene, Hell’s Kitchen in the 1970s; the players, Kathy, Raven and Angie; and the situation, their gangster husbands are in jail and they’re going to step up to the plate and run the family crime racket in their absence. If these women don’t want to be messed with they’re going to need to lay down their own law, seeing how this plays out in the context of 1970s gender politics will be fascinating to watch. I’m hooked. Bring on #2!
Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
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