Noche Roja (Vertigo Crime) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Noche Roja

Vertigo Crime

Written by Simon Oliver; Art by Jason Latour; Cover by Lee Bermejo

Mar 04, 2011 Vertigo Crime Bookmark and Share

Writer Simon Oliver’s (The Exterminators, Gen¹³) killer noir Noche Roja is a hard-boiled example of how Vertigo’s sub-imprint can truly make old genres fresh again. Apparently, Oliver was inspired to write it after reading about the Jurarex, Mexico factory girl murders, and the effects that the North American Free Trade Agreement had on the country. That ripped-from-the-headlines origin bleeds straight into the writer’s journalistic writing style. His gritty narrative is a sharp contemporary twist on boilerplate “noir”: Kidnapped factory girls turn up mutilated and slain on a barrio wasteland, and an ex-cop, currently working in the U.S. as a private eye-turned-alarm salesman, returns to Mexico to solve the crimes. In true noir style, his name is so heterosexual it jumps off the page: Jack Cohen.

Cohen starts to unravel insidious mysteries that have deep roots in his own history. The two elements that make this graphic novel really original are Jason Latour’s widescreen black and white illustrations and Oliver’s adept social commentaries on seedy politicians on both sides of the border. Latour takes his experience of colored carnage from working on the excellent Scalped series and easily switches over to gripping panels that set the dangerous border locations in grim shadowing. Noche Roja almost stands up in tone and quality to his work on Daredevil: Black and White. In addition, Oliver’s dialogues are terse and he sprinkles in local accents, idioms, and vocabulary here and there.

The well-defined art style works well against this highly perverse tale, subtly set in the 1990s. Characterizations, especially women’s aid worker Paloma Flores, are believeable and as gradated as the claire-obscure artwork. If you enjoy an enthralling mystery that upturns the criminal world, slink between the unsettling panels of Noche Roja. ( /

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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