I’ve always been a fan of pulp fiction. There’s something engaging about the 1930’s/40’s setting. Why is that? I think it’s because this type of setting with the way people acted, dressed, and the overall atmosphere makes it an almost ancient world at this point. (Unfortunately.) So it’s always nice to read/see a story do it justice. Casefile: ARKHAM comes from the team of Josh Finney and Patrick McEvoy, the same team behind WORLD WAR KAIJU. Arkham is a great self-contained read. If you’re into those classic horror Marvel comics, tales of Dick Tracey, or just classic noir in general, check out this graphic novel.
Here’s the official description from 01 Publishing:
Set in the mid-1940s, Casefile: ARKHAM follows Hank Flynn, a down on his luck private eye who is back from the war and now working the mean streets of the most cursed city on Earth—Arkham, Massachusetts. And things only get worse for Flynn when a wealthy uptown socialite hires him to track down an artist by the name of Pickman. What begins as a simple missing persons case leads Flynn down a dark path of flesh eating ghouls, vengeful witches, and the notorious Innsmouth mafia.
As stated in the description, the story follows Hank Flynn, a retired marine and now private investigator. The primary reason why the book is so engaging is due to this character. Finney writes this war veteran really well. The narration carries the book as we see this guy isn’t some powerful superhero or action man; he’s just a man trying to do the right thing. He’s a person thrown into this supernatural conflict that slowly unravels. Finney perfectly juggles the different emotions. We see the marine contemplating on life, flashbacks to the bitterness of war, regret, and having a sense of humor. Flynn is an excellent character and I look forward to reading more stories with him as the focus.
The intro nicely sets up the tone for the story. What starts out as a murder quickly diverges into intrigue as we see the source of the killing: a monster. The book then plays out as a 1940’s noir film would: we have a missing persons case and kooky characters talking about it. The person in question, Richard Pickman, is an interesting character and Finney expertly crafts the story around him: building the mystery up panel by panel, and going down some disturbing paths. The usage of Lovecratian monsters/ghouls is neither underplayed nor overplayed. They’re given fantastic build-up that when the big climax happens it’s extra effective. In a story like this, a careful balance between showing and not showing them is the goal, and it’s certainly achieved.
If there’s one negative to be said, it’d probably be the romance between Flynn and Glynda. Glynda is one of the book’s most engaging characters. The problem I have is that we’re given no real backstory between the two, she just kinda appears. There’s fantastic chemistry between the two though; it’s always fun watching them talk to each other. The romance aspect is completely unneeded however. It would have worked far better to just have the two be great friends and build a relationship starting here. McEvoy’s art is great throughout. He perfectly captures that 1940’s look, especially in the scenes early on in the museum. The creatures also look really good. The usage of black and white was a nice touch furthering the retro feel of the story.
Overall, Casefile: ARKHAM is an excellent graphic novel set in 1940’s noir. Almost all the characters contribute greatly to the story, especially protagonist Hank Flynn. The mystery has great build-up, with the appropriate plot twist at the end. Any fan of pulp fiction should give this a read.
Casefile: ARKHAM is available digitally, and will be available in print February 2016.