Abel Walker & Joseph Swann
Created by Dietrich Smith

The black-and-white (in more ways than one) private eye team of ABEL WALKER and JOSEPH SWANN seems perpetually out of their league, in this comic book mini-series by Image, set in a retro Hollywood of the future where computers are everywhere, guns are almost non-existent, and the skies are full of blimps. As the blurb puts it, "The setting is Hollywood, California where Tinseltown has undergone a major facelift as fashion and fad have taken a retro leap backwards in time. Every day life imitates the swinging styles of the 1920's & 30's. Neon banners tower higher than the tallest buildings, advertisments lace Hindenburg-sized blimps, and sturdy arching monorails stand erect high amongst the skies. Nonetheless, one thing still remains the same....murder."

Abel Walker is a cop hero's bookish son, a rather peculiar-looking black guy, what with his shaved head, eyeliner and perpetual sun visor. He actually looks a little, um, cissyish. Not that his parther, Joseph Swann, is any less odd-looking. He's a tall stringbean with batswing sideburns , a tweedy Basil Rathbone-type who looks like he stepped out of an Arthur Conan Doyle book. But he's actually the muscle of the team, prone to brawls and raising a ruckus. It's the short, compact, musclar Abe who's the alleged brains of the pair. In this mini-series, they become entangled in the death of an old girlfriend of Abe's, and soon find themselves up against one of the most powerful men in town.

I dunno. I think Michael Lark did this whole retro-future thing a lot better, and with a lot more style, in DC/Vertigo's Terminal City a few years ago. And it doesn't help that the whole thing's in various muted shades of gray, or that it's plagued by a slew of spelling mistakes and typos (like I should talk, right?). Still, I've only read one issue. And I do want to find out what happens, and a little more about Walker and Swann, so I guess there is something goin' on here...


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