The Crow: Curare is the latest story from the greater universe of The Crow. Issue 3, concludes a story arc written by the author of the original series, James O’Barr. O’Barr provided a beautiful painted cover, while the interior art has been completed by Antoine Dodé with José Villarrubia assisting on colors.
The story follows a down on his luck policeman, Joe, who has alienated his friends and family through his obsession with resolving a particular case. Years after losing his job, he is now haunted by the ghost of a little girl, a victim of the criminal he failed to convict. Not surprisingly, a crow is there to guide Joe and the girl, as they piece together the unresolved threads and seek righteous vengeance. Surprisingly, they can all see each other, and talk to each other; the talking crow is actually played for minor comic relief. At least, I thought it was funny.
Overall, the story leaves me with the impression of having read something between a hard-boiled or noir detective story and a CBS police procedural, but the monochromatic tone over the artwork supports more of a dream-like melancholy feel. Villarrubia uses these alternating dull color washes to help the reader navigate through some non-linear narrative. This technique is not terribly subtle, but color coding the different timelines made the story immensely easier to follow.
The line work is what I would describe as relaxed and sketchy. I really like the design and the expressions on the main character, Joe, where we really get a sense of weight and just some sincerely endearing facial expressions. On the other end of the spectrum, Ghost-crow-girl has a generic feel and barely looks recognizable from one section of the book to another. I found the sketchy or impressionistic feel made it harder for me to decode what was happening in each panel, even in dramatic full page splashes. This pause to interpret the art work after turning each page took me out of the moment, and made it difficult for me to really get into the story.
I will be the first to admit that this isn’t my preferred genre, but if you’re looking for something in the supernatural crime category, I would have to recommend you look elsewhere. For example, the first volume of Dream Thief, from Jai Nitz and Greg Smallwood, was a much better implementation of similar themes.