The Yellow Menace
by Jason Hall, Matt Kindt
(Top Shelf, 2003)
My mama told me that if I couldn't say a Kindt word (sorry, I couldn't resist) about someone, I should say nothing at all. But since I do have to write this review....
Pistolwhip is about an actor in the late 1940s or early '50s (it is hard to tell) who becomes the superhero he pretends to be on the radio, a man who wants to censor comic books and a gumshoe detective called Pistolwhip. Throw in a couple of hot babes. They are all entangled in mystery and a supervillain named the Yellow Menace. Sounds like a fun premise, doesn't it?
Add to the plot several special sections imitating old comic books, pulp magazines and advertising, and this graphic novel is bound to be a winner. Well...
Matt Kindt's art is doodle.
That isn't an insult. It is an art style. But if you don't like the art on, say, Peanuts, the comic strip, you won't like the doodles on Pistolwhip: The Yellow Menace. Sure, the techniques of visual storytelling are fine, but style means personal taste, and some readers will find Kindt's work less than palatable. Why?
Pistolwhip is film noir on paper without the gritty, shadow-drenched atmosphere that is film noir. Noir (sorry again) is the writing all that suspenseful, the plot that twisted and devious, or the ending surprising.