Sunset by Christos Gage and Jorge Lucas is a noir graphic novel featuring Nick Bellamy, a 78-year-old army vet who’s out for revenge (available July 31, 2012).
Sunset comes with a warning:
“If you are reading this on any kind of e-device, Sunset protagonist, Nick Bellamy would most likely punch you in the throat, just on general principle.”
Ouch! I did read this on an e-device, but I had no choice since it was a galley. I just hope and pray to live long enough to see this article published.
Joking aside, Nick Bellamy is as cool and as tough as they come, a real badass. He currently lives in Palm Springs, California, with Ellen, his wife of thirty years, who has for some time now been lost in the dreadful world of dementia. Nick is not a man of today’s world. He seems to have escaped from a noir movie of times long gone or, as the author likes to put it, from a novel written by Raymond Chandler or Mickey Spillane.
Modern life doesn’t make too much sense to him. He moves around his limited world as a phantom, as a complete stranger, who’s full of rage about what’s going on around him: People talking on the phone all the time, having cosmetic surgeries, betting on the markets. And “People suing ’cause their coffee’s too hot,” and “making asses of themselves just to get on TV,” where they make worse asses of themselves.
Nick is a man with a past, and he has to spent every day of his life keeping an eye over his shoulder, because he knows that sooner or later that past will come back to haunt him. And it does. Some thugs sent by his ex-boss Gianelli, a big time casino owner and mobster he’s helped put in jail, ambush him outside a shopping mall and he kicks their asses badly. So, Gianelli is back, he thinks, before realizing that there’s no way they could know where he was if they didn’t first visit his home.
He rushes there, but alas it’s too late. His wife and her nurse are dead. He’s 78 years old and strong as a bull, and not too fond of goodbyes. So he collects a bagful of money, some guns, and a few personal items, then he torches his home and gets on the road. It’s time for revenge and maybe, just maybe, some kind of redemption.
While he’s traveling to meet a couple of friends who helped him with the big heist that led to Gianelli’s arrest, we take a look at Nick’s past. His past is who he was, it’s who he is. At the age of seventeen he enlisted in the army to kill folks. “The army saved my life, by letting me take other people’s,” he told Ellen. But after the army came Gianelli, who hired Nick for what he could do: “My thing was hurting people, and I was damn good at it.”
That he was, and that he still is. At some point though Nick realized that he was getting older, and at just about the same time he met Ellen, who was to become his second wife. And now she’s gone. And Gianelli is going to pay for it.
Nick’s mission seems destined to fail from the very beginning, as his ex-boss seems to always be a step ahead. He got to Nick’s friends first and killed one of them. Then he went after Nick’s first wife Nancy and his son Jack in order to make him suffer more. Gianelli’s men, though, are not as bright as their boss; and they certainly are no match for Nick, whom one of them likens to Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven; he may be an old man, but he still knows how to fight hard.
Nick manages to save Nancy and Jack in the nick of time and along with his friend Sully they head for Las Vegas, where they are to confront their enemy face to face. The city has changed a lot since the days Nick and Sully were there; before there was crime but also a sense of order, now he feels that chaos prevails all over the place.
Well, Nick can add a lot to that chaos and he will, as he at last comes to meet again, after almost a lifetime, his old boss and current nemesis.
Sunset is as noir as they come. You have the lonesome hero, you have the femmes fatales, you have crime and corrupted cops, you have love and you have revenge, all in one, in a beautifully crafted graphic novel.
Christos Gage has done a great job with the narration and the dialogue, there are punch lines flying all over the text, while Jorge Lucas has delivered some exquisite images that more than enrich the whole premise. The two of them really complement each other in this volume and the reader has no choice but to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.
Lakis Fourouklas has published four novels and three short-story collections in Greek. He’s currently translating his work into English and blogs at Fiction & More. He also keeps a few blogs in Greek regarding general fiction, Japanese Literature, and Crime Fiction. Follow him on Twitter: @lakisf. He lives in the wilderness of Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Read all posts by Lakis Fourouklas for Criminal Element.