Comic Review: The Devil’s Concubine

The Devil’s Concubine
Written by Palle Schmidt
Art by Palle Schmidt
Cover by Peter Snejbjerg
IDW Publishing
Release Date: May 11, 2011
Cover Price: $17.99

When a Danish cartoonist sets out to create a comic based off of some of the greatest American noir and crime novels, you know it’s going to be a gritty affair. Palle Schmidt‘s U.S release of The Devil’s Concubine is exactly that – a blood-soaked, bullet-riddled pulp crime graphic novel. In The Devil’s Concubine the hits are messy, the actions constant, and the body count soars. Palle Schmidt has created a pulp crime graphic novel the likes of 100 Bullets and Jinx that paints humanity at its worst, no ones safe, and everyone is your enemy. Welcome to the world of The Devil’s Concubine.

The Devil’s Concubine takes place as contract assassins Jean-Luc and Linda are hired to retrieve a particular case containing some very important product. In a series of double crosses the team must shakedown, cheat, and murder everyone in their path to hold onto their own heads. Schmidt has created a unique dynamic between main characters Jean-Luc and Linda that has not been explored in this genre of graphic novels yet.

Linda, the small but brutal assassin, is completely unhinged through and through. Schmidt writes Linda’s character like a journalist reports on a hurricane with the obvious knowledge that it will destroy everything in its path. Around this point in any pulp graphic novel the seasoned veteran steps in and makes sure the young loose cannon doesn’t get killed. However, in the case of The Devil’s Concubine the seasoned hit man, Jean-Luc, bends and sways to the orders of Linda and this often troubling indecision is the cause of most of the pairs problems. Jean-Luc is not the rock of this team, Linda is not the cool-headed problem solver this team needs, and this dynamic that Schmidt explores is one of the more original concepts I’ve seen in this form.

It isn’t all deep character studies and inner turmoil; blood is shed in gallons as crime bosses go to war over Jean-Luc and Linda’s mystery case. Palle Schmidt’s classic style lends itself wonderfully to this genre as action threatens to burst out of every panel. Schmidt illustrates the firefights with enormous amounts of violence and the private meeting with tension that is bound to erupt at any point. The clean less detailed lines and the painstakingly illustrated skylines pay homage to pulp crime and the classic gangster genre. Color also bursts from each panel as ceilings, walls, floors, and everything else is covered with blood. As each gang leader gets a bullet in the head Schmidt reminds us that he has mastered the art of comic coloring (at least all the shades of red).

The Devil’s Concubine is the type of book that can be enjoyed thoroughly if you are looking for a non-stop tale of murder and deceit. However, if you are also looking for a book that is taking a genre that has been done to death and adding a new level of character development, you are in luck as The Devil’s Concubine has that also. Palle Schmidt has created a book that adds another stunning chapter to the already deep and vivid cannon of crime books. The Devil’s Concubine takes notes from its predecessors while rebranding itself into a truly gripping graphic novel.

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