I freely admit that I haven’t been the biggest fan of Steve Niles’ work. So I went into Chin Music with trepidation, and walked away pleasantly surprised.
Chin Music is a book confident and unforced in its concept: Gangsters and G-men up against, or in thrall of, ancient, possibly nasty, powers.
It’s a simple idea, and one we’ve seen before, but what makes it work is that Niles doesn’t feel the need to overburden it with elaborate explanations, or indeed much in the way of dialogue; much of this opening issue is wordless. You don’t have to know who Eliot Ness or Al Capone are to get the heft of this story, and Niles doesn’t bother explaining it to us; everything about this book is revealed through action. We know Ness is a decent man not because he tells us, but because he stops by the side of the road to save a horrifically injured man, and if he can’t do that, he commits to giving the family a little peace.
Tony Harris, best known for his work on Starman, offers his usual elaborate work, in particular making use of digital coloring to pop details that you otherwise might miss and with unusual use of layout:
It adds up to a creative team nearly perfectly in sync, and the book itself is willing to take a few risks: The final spread, which we won’t ruin here, is a neat moment that both ends the story with a bang and leaves you wondering what’ll happen next.
Even if you’re not a fan of those involved, this book is worth picking up: For both men, it’s something unique.