By Jim Alexander, Gary McLaughlin, Will Pickering, Luke Cooper
Well, this was a bit of a turn up. I’d seen issue #1 of Good Cop, Bad Cop back in March last year, where writer Jim Alexander and artist Luke Cooper told a bloody and nasty tale of Scot-Noir that I described thus:
“Sometimes high concept summaries are lazy things, sometimes they’re simply obvious and need stating upfront. Good Cop, Bad Cop is Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde as a police procedural in the violent bits of Scotland. That’s it. 24 pages of it. It could have been cliched rubbish, thank god it’s not.”
Fast forward to now, and Jim Alexander sends over the complete Good Cop, Bad Cop Volume 1, where that Luke Cooper drawn instalment is the final part of this book.
What we get in the stories prior to what I’ve already read is more of the same, a nasty, dark, bloody set of tales featuring Scotland’s most conflicted copper, Detective Inspector Brian Fisher, who has a secret life that’s beginning to get in the way of his policing career. Fisher has an alter-ego, a nasty piece of work unconcerned with the niceties of police-work, caring not one whit for the law, a violent, murderous Mr Hyde to Fisher’s Henry Jeckyll.
Inside Good Cop, Bad Cop we have five tales of Fisher and his violent alter-ego, all written by Jim Alexander in a decidedly Tartan-Noir style (a great turn of phrase I sadly can’t lay claim to, that’s from John Wagner’s introduction to this book).
(Good Cop, Bad Cop – here’s DI Brian Fisher – the Jekyll in this story. Art by Gary McLaughlin)
The stories within are all riffing off the same idea, Alexander playing with his dual identity copper again and again. Sometimes it works beautifully, a James Ellroy vibe coming up from the words, sometimes it stutters a little too much, the idea okay, the execution lacking.
Weirdly enough for a comic, some of the real highlights come from the text pieces in-between the comic work, as Alexander gets to play with his Jeckyll and Hyde-a-likes, a couple of pages each, one for Jeckyll/Fisher and one for Hyde, each filling out their own police case file report, each having their own voice come through loud and clear. Yes, it’s a good read, yes, it’s evidence that Alexander has a great writing style, yes it’s evidence that he’s totally in control of these characters. But a little bit of me does wonder why these text pieces are the highlight of this comic. Somehow that doesn’t feel quite right.
(Good Cop, Bad Cop – Brian Fisher’s alter-ego, the Hyde to his Jekyll. Art by Will Pickering)
Back in the comic, the whole book is good, but the final part, with art by Luke Cooper is the absolute highlight. Whether it’s me being predisposed to liking the Alexander/Cooper story best because I’d seen it before, whether it’s merely the finale that all the previous stories have been building up to, or whether it’s simply the best thing in here … I’m not sure, but this final tale sees Cooper’s art absolutely shining through, the stark contrast work is stylish as hell, the distinction between Fisher and his Mr Hyde alter-ego the least exaggerated, coming across as merely a cop with a psychotic glint in his eye and a messed up haircut, giving the impression that the difference between any of us and a psychopath is a lot less than we think. That’s scary as hell. And Cooper nails it so well in his impression….
Cooper’s art ends this volume on something of a cliffhanger, and although I’ll freely acknowledge the faults, imperfections and limitations of Good Cop, Bad Cop, there’s still part of me wondering ‘what’s next’, and that is always something I’d consider a success.
So, Jim Alexander…. what’s next? and when will I see it?