Written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Ben Templesmith
Published by Image Comics
It’s been about half a year since the last issue came out and there was a definite void left that needed to be filled. Unfortunately, this book is hard to top and the absence of new issues did leave a hole in my monthly reading. Ellis is on a tear right now, with a great new take on Marvel’s Thunderbolts, as well as his creator owned work Black Sunday and Doktor Sleepless being published regularly, but Fell is one of a kind.
The main comic book part of the story is only 16 pages (which helps keep the book at a ridiculously low price of $1.99), but Ellis and Templesmith pack more story into fewer pages than any other comic can offer. There isn’t a single wasted space in any panel. Every inch of space is wisely used through Ellis’s narrative or Templesmith’s detailed art. And in a time when a lot of comics take several issues to tell a single story, each issue of Fell is a complete, self contained story.
The series is about Detective Richard Fell, who’s assigned to Snowtown, a morbid little city across the river from where he used to work, filled with townspeople who only come out at night if they’re going to commit a crime. We aren’t given the reasons why the detective had to be ‘demoted’ to Snowtown, but that missing history isn’t important to the story. Detective Fell is intelligent and unforgiving. Each case he is assigned to is crazier than the next and the detective must rely on his mind to get the best of the situation, though it doesn’t always work.
My favorite moment in the series was during an interrogation in which Detective Fell and his suspect matched wits with each other for the entire issue with a resolution that was unexpected. Think Detective Frank Pembleton interrogation scenes from the old Homicide television show.
This latest issue offers another unique take on a detective story staple: the hostage negotiation. Like the interrogation story, this issue shines particularly due to the way Ellis is able to write dialogue. You never know where it’s going and there’s a true sense of suspense because not all of these cases are going to go the Detective’s way. As interesting as it can be to follow Detective Fell's breakdown of a typical case, I find these types of stories even better. Fell knows procedure inside and out, but that doesn't necessarily mean he has the upper hand. Stories like this showcase the detective's sharp tongue to be as important as his deductive reasoning.
As a bonus, each issue contains a behind the scenes look at the making of the book at the main story, which gives insight into the storytelling process, complete with the inspiration for the issue. I don’t know what’s more frightening: that some of these stories are pulled from actual events or that Ellis’ mind is able to come up with even more horrifying things.