I had some time to spare and was passing through Birmingham, going from New Street station to Moor St station, and I exited the vast newness of the rebuilt station and made my way with determination to Nostalgia and Comics. As I walked, I lamented that Readers Book shop had closed, and then had a mournful thought for Andromeda books, venues I haunted infrequently, but the constant that is Nostalgia and Comics is reassuring.
The shop has a number of things that put it into the class of comic shop that I like, a decent small press section, back issues, bargains to easier take a risk on, and a healthy level of stock. The shop is brimful, and with unusual items too; this is important, because it makes it all the more worthwhile visiting.
On the small press shelves, and I should note, these shelves are managed and stocked with a decent level of respect, there sat the Broker. Dammit, straight away a purchase was required, as I had heard of this comic from pals at Dublin Comic Con, where it launched, and indeed had read part of it previously and it was very pleasing.
The first ten pages, which were previously published in Lighting Strike, show a heist, a city under way too much pressure, society at a breaking point and within this a sinister plot, a fascinatingly complex level of double cross and infiltration along with gun action in a police station. The art style has a lovely cartoon and manga influence, and is crisp, with very strong colouring. I really liked it, as well as the portrayal of the action, and good story telling in the sequencing of art. The story itself is good, with fast paced dialogue, a compelling story that captured me very well and I was impressed.
Then there is a change of artwork. Now as a comic reader I should be used to this, used to different artists, for this is normal in many titles, but I am always a little apprehensive, in case it slightly jars with my expectations. In this instance though, the change is nothing less than inspired, and damnable good luck; I know that the break in the story is happenstance, but even s it is fortuitous in this instance for it adds a tangible and visible change just at the right point.
The story pace and focus changes, and so progress to the story of Catelyn Harrison, a US army Lieutenant and the sister of not just one one of the victims, but of a miscarriage of justice in the previous section, and indeed now directly concerned and keen to exonerate her brother while emersing herself in a shadowy world, where even her own skills and abilities may not be enough to deal with the challenges that she faces.
The artwork changes to a finer line, more detail in facial expressions and a lighter tone of colouring, which fits perfectly with this phase of the comic, and is a really nice delineation point, so as oppsosed to being a moment where ones story enjoyment is turbulent, it was actually a very adept change and well suited.
With some flash back scenes to Afghanistan and an interesting level of intrigue, the story is cohesive and really quite enjoyable, and a real find. I look forward to more work, and indeed, will be noting the names involved and hoping more work comes from them.
I had a good time in Nostalgia and Comics, I found some older issues of 2000AD and one had artwork by Len O’Grady which was rather pleasing, and then picked up Futurequake 2017 which is another exceptional small press comic (which we’ve blogged about many a time) but with a wide variety of contributors, but soon time was going by and I made my way onto my next train, and had quality reading material for the journey.
The Broker is currently available in Nostalgia and Comics, and the Belfast and Dublin branches of Forbidden Planet International, and available by mail order from Rogue comics, spearheaded by Wayne Talbot and Ciaran Marcantonio by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org