Diamond Steel Comics will release their latest title Mean City at Dunfermline Comic Con in March and after the success of their Scottish superhero Saltire, I jumped at the chance at getting an early look at its first issue.
While it opens with the innocent scene of a guy helping a group of kids get their ball back it’s the only silent & sombre moment in an unflinching gangster noir story. The story focuses on gang members Jaxx & Nello who have very different approaches to the lives they’ve found themselves leading but with their boss breathing down their necks & female vigilante Calamity Malice being cheered on by the masses, it’s far from a smooth ride for them both.
The city and its vigilante are relentless & brutal and as the body count begins to rise the gangsters and the cops owned by the gangsters have their work cut out to keep enough control in the city to let them go about their dodgy dealings. The all-seeing Gaffer has an army at his disposal though and with Calamity firmly in his sights the confrontations begin to take their toll in more ways than one. The grim elements sprinkled through the story let us see the raw violence, anger & chaos bubbling away in the city without glorifying it and with our vigilante willing to fight fire with fire we’ve definitely got a sense of purpose behind the entire cast to make their mark.
John’s characters are great examples of how the lowest of the low can still retain a hint of something positive in a twisted kind of way and while there are some sections of dialogue & narration that could be seen as word-heavy, it manages to scrape through without disrupting the flow of the story too much. He’s built a great creative team around him that helps bolster the dark side of the city and really deliver the punch that the story demands. Toni Doya Heredia’s art is incredibly detailed throughout the entire issue and it helps highlight the threats & the grime of the surroundings in pretty much every scene. There’s some great touches in Phillip Vaughn’s colours too as the main players are always kept in colour as the surroundings take on a shadow-like hue that seeps into the whole mood of the book.
There’s a ton of dialogue & narration to deal with but having Robin Jones work his magic on that front helps keep things under control and allow the story to play out as it should. There’s an extra nod going out to Clare Ferguson for that cover too as it’s a cracking hint at just how significant our vigilante is to the whole story.
A gripping & gruesome first issue that juggles narrative, dialogue and the criminal underworld with a real sense of direction and the whole creative team work to keep that held together it shows how important each element is to the overall look & feel of the story & its characters. While the Saltire title showed off the quality of book Diamond Steel had their sights on, it’s this new title that sees them raise the bar and meet the challenge.
Mean City will hit Kickstarter soon before it’s released at Dunfermline Comic Con in March and you can keep an eye over on the Diamond Steel website for online orders soon after that. You can also keep updated with progress over on the Saltire Facebook & Twitter pages too.