Before Brian Michael Bendis was the guy on everyone’s writer list, before he had numerous comics produced at once, and before he helped Ultimate Spider-Man take off in cartoon form on MTV, he wrote some of the best damned crime noir comics all by his lonesome. His art, a wonderfully harsh black and white, as if everyone was caught by an extreme flash bulb, is perfect, and his writing, steeped in noir tradition and a keen awareness of how people actually talk, harkens what we all know now was to come. Goldfish was the first of these hefty crime tomes. Goldfish is, in fact, a man — specifically, a con artist who’s returned to the city of his youth on a mission. Calling in old favors, he arrives to discover that the landscape has changed a bit more than he had realized. His best friend, a con like himself, is now a detective, and his ex-girlfriend is leading the city’s crime bosses. Despite the fish out of water feeling, Goldfish is determined to complete his task — a personal need that slowly comes into focus through all the fast talk and double-crossing. A tragedy right up there with the greats of the genre, Goldfish remains of the favorites on my shelf.