This one (surprise, surprise) has been getting a lot of press lately. Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law, and Sam Mendes will do that to a story. I’ve not yet seen the film, though it’s on my short list, but I can say without a doubt: read the book. Road to Perdition is a dark but illuminating tale of gangsters, circling around the relationships of fathers and sons. Begun with the unnervingly small leap it takes a good man to commit an evil act, and then to grow accustomed to evil, this story is a noir tale at its heart. Full of murky morals, murkier characters, and hard-boiled attitude, the author and artist make you care deeply about O’Sullivan and his son as they head toward their inevitable conclusion. This tale is not for the squeamish: the violence is explicit and shocking, the black and white doing little to squelch the horror of what occurs. The true star of this title is the artwork, hands down. Yes, the dialogue is fine, though not as sparkling as Brian Michael Bendis’ Torso, but you can tell by looking at any page that the art took four painstaking years. It shows in the fine detail of a 30s city street and in the pained expressions that cross Michael O’Sullivan’s face. In the end, those eloquent lines provides the moment of release and redemption that you realizing you’ve been holding your breath for the entire time.
The Road to Perdition
by Max Allan Collins
Art by Richard Rayner
Pocket Books 2008 (new edition)