Tumor (Archaia) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, April 17th, 2024  



Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov; art by Noel Tuazon

May 05, 2010 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

A series that cites a “special medical consultant” in the opening credits is bound to have some interesting stuff in it. Of course, the accompanying art above and on the facing page of exposed brains (one in a splaying skull; the other more of a science book model) helps set the mood of the book immediate as well.

Tumor, a 240-page graphic novel, is dramatic from the get-go. With the title of chapter one (“A Guy Walks Into a Diner”) the stage is set for a noirish tale. Diner coffee, headaches, aspirin packets; even the littlest things are hyper-magnified, almost like when you yourself have a headache. And boy, does the protagonist have a headache.

This is the story of Frank Armstrong, a private detective in Los Angeles with the titular tumor growing in his dome. The problem: said tumor is altering his perception, plaguing him with time lapses and haunting him with confusing, older (yet pertinent to the story) memories. Frank’s on his last legs, and it seems he is determined to make up for past regrets in the limited time he’s got left, protecting the daughter of a crime boss like he couldn’t for his own wife.

In an industry that’s enjoyed a renaissance of non-superhero genre titles in the past decade, yet still screams for more variety, Tumor is a welcome addition. Fialkov’s Los Angeles lives and breathes a smoky, nicotine-scented breath that speaks to the city’s seedy cool and its dark underside. His LA is populated by despicable people and swaying palm trees; tarnished cops and bad guys showing a little decency. It’s quite a world. The art is loose and breezy; a little sketch-like in places, especially the flashbacks. It’s a good fit, both for the City of Angels and the confusing, frenetic world of Armstrong. The beauties are still as beautiful as you could want; the faces and bodies distinct. Great storytelling.

In a way, it reminds me of the first time I read Goldfish (Brian M. Bendis’ pre-Marvel crime work). It’s the kind of book you can read, put down, and be satisfied, having read a complete, self-contained story. Pick it up again to lend to a friend, certainly. There’s no real need for a sequel, although there’s bonus material: a short story in the back, the original pitch, and an article reprinted from Ain’t it Cool News. But that’s all cherries on top of the sundae.

I’m looking forward to seeing what Fialkov and Tuazon do next, whether together or separately. Oh, and at 240 pages for 15 bucks-even less if you buy the Kindle version- Tumor is value plus high quality, and recommended. (www.archaia.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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