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CJ Standal
Author, Contributor
Rebirth of the Gangster Act 1: Meet the Family
CJ Standal, author

The Anderson and Thompson family share a dark past, but their sons Marcus and Hunter don't know it....yet.

As the past comes to light--including the answers to a decades-old murder--an intricate revenge scheme forms, involving six people belonging to, or affected by, the families.

Each chapter follows one of these six people, searching for their pieces to the puzzle.

Marcus--a man struggling against the reins of his job and his family.

Hunter--a man fighting for his mom's life and for revenge.

Lorena--an old friend of Hunter's, now a cop, trying to balance her own life with the job.

Andrea--Marcus's mom, misssing her old life, one of secrets and action.

Linda--Hunter's mom, dealing with cancer, addiction, and a past deal with the devil.

Dennis--Hunter's friend, just out of prison, trying to put that life behind him.

These six people, seeming strangers to each other, find themselves sucked into a revenge scheme that will take some of their lives and all of their innocence.

Find out who's a casualty in the criminal masterpiece (collecting issues 1-6) that is perfect for fans of Breaking Bad, The Wire, The Sopranos, Othello, and 100 Bullets!

The first comic by writer and blogger Standal, drawn by veteran illustrator Romera, deals with six characters escaping dark pasts and striving for the light as they interact with the criminal justice system. Marcus Thompson, lawyer and son of upstanding philanthropists Curtis and Andrea, is pistol-whipped during a robbery by a masked man later revealed to be Hunter Anderson. Hunter’s ex-junkie mother, Linda, and absent father, John, were betrayed in some way by Curtis, and now Hunter vows to get revenge. To do so, Hunter ingratiates himself with Marcus. Meanwhile, Det. Lorena Sanchez, who attended high school with Hunter, is hot on his trail.

Perhaps because of the tall task of covering six significant characters and their tangled history in six short issues, several aspects of each character are clarified either late or not at all. Andrea isn’t given a name until page 81, and Linda’s illness is known to Hunter—and the reader—only as “some super-serious cancer.” Flashbacks interrupt abruptly and often look indistinguishable from the current day, and the cause of the old enmity between Curtis and John is not revealed by the book’s end. This can make for a difficult reading experience at times, but it’s also clear that the book is intended as part of a larger series, and there’s plenty to whet the reader’s appetite for future installments.

Romera’s dynamic black-and-white art fits both the noir aesthetic and the recurring theme of being “born out of darkness into light.” The multiple entwining arcs combine to evoke an urban setting rife with violence and decay; almost all the characters come from broken homes, and they all have something to hide. The haunted pasts and struggles of characters such as Hunter and Marcus, and the police procedures and investigations of Detective Sanchez and her colleagues, will appeal to readers of both superhero comics and noir-flavored graphic novels.

Takeaway: This illustrated crime thriller will entice fans of family sagas and tangled revenge plots.

Great for fans of Alan Moore’s Watchmen, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’s The Fade Out.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: B-
Marketing copy: A