By Brandy Dykhuizen. Dark clever stories, moody narratives, sweeping shadows – fans of Azzarello & Risso will know exactly what to expect when diving into their new noir joint. Moonshine certainly delivers, with its deliciously pulpy, grain-fed tale of mystery and greed, nestled somewhere in the labyrinthine hills of West Virginia. Prohibition offers a convenient backdrop for some city-slicker and hillbilly crosstalk, while Brian Azzarello has sweetened the deal with hints of a supernatural fiend defending the sought-after stills.
Ol’ Hiram Holt proves a formidable foe for fatcats and feds alike. His moonshine has brought all the fellas to his yard, whether it be in hopes of confiscation or partnering up to introduce the smooth hooch to Manhattan. Hiram’s got a few more secrets than just a coveted recipe – something is lurking near those stills, and when the moon comes out, you’d be best advised to steer clear of the Holt compound. Why are the Holts so opposed to capitalizing on their liquid gold? We all know too much moonshine might make you go blind, but does an overdose of this distillation send one howling at the moon?
Eduardo Risso’s palette and angled shadows allow you to linger in the shadows of the night. You might get the impression all the action lies within the day’s crepuscular cusps, if it weren’t for Azzarello’s dialogue pointing us towards a noontime repast. Instead, we get the feeling that even the light has to fight that much harder to get through the shadows in Appalachia. This, and the predominant grain and steel hues lull you into a sleepy southern dreamland, where sudden splotches of blood jump off the page and jolt you back into the real story.
Despite the smooth, almost dream-like storytelling overall, there were a couple moments that stuck out like a wolf-bitten thumb. A raunchy comment stank rather pointlessly during a diner sequence like coffee dregs left burning in the carafe. Later on, Lou Pirlo’s interruption of an African American campfire sing-a-long seemed to pop up way out of left field, and included more than one depiction that could be confused with a popular racist caricature from another era. That last one ended the book on a bit of a weird note for me, but here’s to hoping Mr. Azzarello will avoid taking the easier paths found within period-set horror in the future.
Written by Brian Azzarello
Art and Colors by Eduardo Risso
Letters by Jared Fletcher
7.5 out of 10