Writer: Ben Kahn / Artist: Bruno Hidalgo / Scout Comics
But it’s a long hard road, out of hell”- Marilyn Manson
Name your favorite heist movie. Ocean’s 11? Inside Man? Heat? A good heist movie requires three things. A priceless treasure, impossible circumstances, and a stand out crew. That’s the formula you need to make a heist worthwhile. Heavenly Blues tho? Heavenly Blues went and flipped the heist game by being one part The Good Place, one part Ocean’s Eleven, but all murder music. We’re introduced with some residents of hell that get the chance to do the impossible, break into heaven for the ultimate heist.
Our tour guide for hell is provided by Isaiah “Tommy Gun” Jefferson, a thief from the Great Depression era. Isaiah gives us a look into the hell. It isn’t all fire and torment as everyone thinks. There’s a lot of torment but after thousands of centuries, the worst part of hell, is the boredom. This depiction of hell strays from the usual interpretations we’ve seen in pop culture. Not only in the day to day life but the landscape as well. Just as life isn’t fair we see how the rules that send someone to hell can be just as unfair or biased, as we learn from Isaiah’s friend “Wicked” Erin Foley from the time of the Salem Witch Trials. When they’re both approached by someone that needs their skills to steal something from heaven, the story only gets better than you’d expect.
A good group of bad people
As crazy as the heavenly heist premise is, the part that really got me into the story is the assembly of the crew. The people gathered by Isaiah and Erin are not only interesting but captivating. Each member hails from a different time period, culture, and belief. The best part is finding out why or how these different crew members wound up in hell. Some circumstances are easy to justify why others aren’t. Also, these members reside in different areas of hell, which brings us back to the landscape. Hell isn’t all fire pits, there’s a lot of parts that look like Arizona, old-timey, or even like different foreign countries. The world building of hell is very fascinating and pretty cultured as fuck. The way the Egyptians are held in such high regard had me nodding my head as I read the story.
Kahn and Hidalgo have really brought a unique story to the forefront. One that I can easily see being made into a movie. I called it with Image’s God Country which is now being made into a film. I’m putting money on Heavenly Blues too. This also isn’t a story about redemption, there are people that did some bad things sure. However, some of those things were done for survival or were done against an unjust law in their time. Ben Kahn’s writing does a great job of making you feel for these characters. It’s crazy, but these people that spent all this time in hell are some stand-up people. They aren’t one-note hard asses. We see their humor, the charisma, and addictions, weaknesses and even super endearing moments. It’s hard for me to even pick a favorite character because everyone brings something unique to the table. Kahn’s writing and dialogue are organic and just so fitting for this wild adventure. He’ll keep you engaged for this uniquely original journey with these character’s wit, tenacity, and scheming.
Gorgeous as all hell
Bruno Hidalgo’s art brings this book together. It has a noir feel to it, yet the colors make it stand out in modern times. There blending between the two genres meeting in the middle creates an enveloping look for the characters and background. It’s not easy to give a hell a new look but Hidalgo did it. What I really loved were the different districts in hell and then seeing parts that looked like entirely like foreign countries. The way the territories are divided is smart and makes you wonder the history of the landscape and how it came to be.
With so much happening from comic book films and books, it’s refreshing to see stories with a stand out premise en route for an adventure. Ben Kahn and Bruno Hidalgo really got one on their hands with this graphic novel. Dare I say, this is exactly what the comic book game needs right now. This right here? This how you raise the bar. Not only do we get a cast from all walks of life, cultures, and sexualities, we get a story that makes each character look sincere even though they’re fucking bad (You see that set up? Get it? Cause they’re from hell and—yall dunno comedy).
Your art can be great, your premise can be fire but if the writing isn’t there, then your project ain’t going to make it. Which makes me so happy to say Heavenly Blues fires on all cylinders. Kahn and Hidalgo are a creative team that gets it. Heavenly Blues comes out as a graphic novel in December. Trust me, it’s a (Don’t say it. Don’t say it! Don’t!) hell of a good time.
The Heavenly Blues TPB comes out in December! Take a look, and pick up the trade next month!
Bruno and I gave this crazy, over the top heist of Heaven and Hell everything we got, and we can't wait to share it with you. pic.twitter.com/0po22snAUs
— Ben Kahn (@BenTheKahn) November 21, 2018
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