Propaganda goes Back To Brooklyn

Published On December 4, 2008 | By Richard Bruton | Comics, Reviews

Back To Brooklyn

Story by Garth Ennis and Jimmy Palmiotti, Written by Garth Ennis, Art by Mihailo Vukelic.

Image Comics

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First of all, a point of interest: There’s only one place in the entire comic where Jimmy Palmiotti’s name is ahead of Garth Ennis’ and that’s in the trademark notice. Everywhere else it’s Garth Ennis first. Look at the creator credits above: Story by Garth & Jimmy, written by Garth. Everything points to this being a Garth Ennis story. But unless I’m most mistaken, it definitely is not. Unless Garth Ennis has completely changed his style, there’s very little I recognise as his signature in the writing. Palmiotti’s afterword pretty much confirms this; it’s Palmiotti’s idea and reading the afterword there’s very little mention of Ennis’ input at all. I’ve got nothing particularly against the idea of a collaboration, I just feel that it’s more Palmiotti’s book than Ennis’ and the credits really ought to reflect this otherwise it’s merely misrepresenting the book.

However, putting that gripe aside, the actual story isn’t too bad. Bob Saetta has walked into a police station offering up everything he knows about the major crime family in Brooklyn. And he knows a lot, given that he’s the number two and his big brother Paul is the number one. No-one knows why he’s doing this, but after Paul finds out and kidnaps Bob’s wife and child, wiping out the 6 cops protecting them in the process, the chief investigator asks the important question: “Killing cops? What’s got Paul Saetta spooked enough to sign his own goddamn death warrant. What the hell does his little brother know?” And that’s the thing we just don’t know yet, but we’re told at various points that it’s something unbelievably terrible.

A deal is done and, with the cops knowing they can’t bring his family in safely, Bob negotiates himself a weekend of freedom to get his family back before turning himself in. What follows is a journey, a very bloody journey, through the crime family, recruiting allies and blowing away the men responsible for taking his family.

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(Mihailo Vukelic’s art from Back To Brooklyn issue 1.)

Jimmy Palmiotti describes the artist’s work as “What struck me right away is his work looked nothing like anything I have seen in comics before … realistic renderings and yet abstract in their approach. Easy to read and clean …”

I’ll challenge that one. Realistic renderings perhaps. But to my eye that just means that the facial details look like they’ve been photoshopped onto the face shape, ending up with a flat, lifeless image. And there’s little of the abstract about these things, as each panel looks like it’s extensively photo referenced, adding to the lifeless quality of the art. I’ve seen far worse artwork, and I’ll freely admit that withing a couple of issues Vukelic’s art improves considerably but it’s never going to be anything I’m going to like.

Back To Brooklyn is done well enough, even with the problems I had with the art, and the story kept my interest through these initial couple of issues. Dialogue’s okay, plotting’s okay, but it’s no more and no less than a comic version of some run of the mill gangster revenge movie. If that’s your thing, go wild. But I ended up closing issue two and knew that the odds of me getting the final three issues of the five issue series were slim at best. I want more out of a Garth Ennis book than this. I want the crackling dialogue and plotting of the Preacher series. But it’s nowhere near that level sadly.

Richard Bruton denies being a member of the Yorkshire Mafia and anyone who claims otherwise will wake up with an oversized Yorkshire pudding next to them in their bed. You’ve been warned.

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About The Author

Richard Bruton

– Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he’s written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard’s day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children’s graphic novel library in the country.

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