Russell Mark Olson is a creator that has already impressed in the likes of Lady Hollywood & Gateway City and it took just a glimpse of the cover of this new title to convince a pulp fan like me that this was a book I had to get my hands on.
This new release started life as an Inktober project and while he never quite finished at the time he thankful returned to it earlier this year to complete it. It tells the story of titular spy The Black Iris, as she does everything it takes to get a copy of the plans for a secret Nazi weapon. The wordless story sweeps you off your feet with it’s raw 1940’s mood and with a female hero based on Lauren Buckall there’s a definite swagger about our central character that eases things into a high gear and then sustains that pace over the course of the book.
Her quick-thinking solutions are a solid match for the threats she faces but there is always a weighty element of risk to every decision she makes. That may not be the easiest thing to convey in a wordless book but Russell manages to do that effortlessly across pages that are both action-packed and beautiful.
His homage to classic movies ends up working on a number of levels as the panoramic layouts and black & white art capture everything you might expect from the type of films I’m sure many of us have loved for a number of years. I think the only thing that might be missing is that recognizable static crackle as the scenes follow the flow of the story but it has perfectly captured the movie mood.
As homage’s go you’d be hard pushed to find a better book at capture all the key elements so well and the fact that this does that without any spoken words or narration is a testament to just how well structured the whole book is. I hope we see more of these from Russell as there’s no doubt it’s a theme he is able to absolutely nail and I say that after reading & re-reading this several times in quick succession and loving it each time. More of this please……MORE, MORE, MORE!!! 😀