Coming in June from Oni Press is Archer Coe and The Thousand Natural Shocks by Jamie S. Rich and Dan Christensen, the first in a series of original graphic novels about the hypnotist Archer Coe.
Performing under the stage name The Mind’s Arrow, Archer Coe is a hypnotist who, when not performing on stage, works as a special consultant for the rich and famous. His most recent case involves a woman who claims to know Archer, whose husband turns up murdered by a killer known as The Zipper-who may turn out to be Archer Coe. With no memory of the event, Archer needs to clear his name and find the killer.
Jamie S. Rich cleverly opens the story with how hypnotism works in a narrative context, and it never once feels contrived. The link between Archer Coe diving into people’s minds and not being sure of what was in his own was an adept character flaw. I liked the disjointed nature of the story using Archer as an unreliable narrator as he regains his memories, allowing us to learn the story alongside him.
Dan Christensen’s uncomplicated black-and-white art uses various shades of gray to add depth to the images. This style perfectly captures the noir feel and each face is expressive, even with Archer hidden under his domino mask. The choice of camera angles helps to further push the confusion in Archer’s mind. The subtle transition into the flashback scene framed by Archer’s cigarette smoke was my favorite touch by Christensen.
Archer Coe and The Thousand Natural Shocks is a sharp, fresh take on the detective genre, blending murder mystery, pulp and honest-to-god psychics. Archer Coe himself is an interesting, gifted character, who seems to only be friends with cats, and I can’t wait to see where the next volume takes him and his cat friends. The final order date is approaching fast on May 26, so get your orders into your LCS now-using the Diamond Order Code FEB141356-before the street date of June 25!