Fell, Warren Ellis's new crime drama from Image Comics, is a perfect example of a comic that tries too hard. The title character is a former big-city cop who finds himself relocated to the blighted Snowtown, a dead-end beat in a dead-end town. Each 16-page issue tells a complete story, replacing the currently-trendy plot-starved decompressed storytelling for a tighter plot-driven tale. And I have no problems with the plot--but this is one of the few Warren Ellis comics in which the dialogue totally fails to click.
Ellis has packed Fell with the sort of tough-as-nails dialogue that writers like Mickey Spillane and Raymond Chandler popularized... but he all too frequently crosses the border into Leslie Nielsen spoof territory.
"Welcome to the Moon, Detective. Miles from anywhere. Colder than Eskimo nipples. And if you breathe, you die." (Most Eskimos I've seen in photos have actually been pretty well insulated by layers of clothing, so I'm not sure this comparison even works...)
"Moon St. Precinct House--where I work now. It smells like a leper's cesspit." (Does Hansen's disease actually cause a leper's waste matter to smell even worse than anyone else's?)
"I see you again and I'll shove this up your ass so hard it'll hit you in the back of the teeth."
If these lines work for you, odds are you'll enjoy Fell. If they make you wince in apprehension that Ellis wants us to take this seriously, then you'll likely remain as disengaged from this story as I was.
Ben Templesmith's art is subdued, filled with too many empty medium shots and even more minimally impressionistic than usual. The result is a dreary book thta seems to waste much of its visual potential.
Ellis, Templesmith, crime drama... I had high hopes. But this one just doesn't deliver.