Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso are the sort of comic book team you can’t pass up. When these guys get together and make a comic book, you buy that comic book. No questions asked: you buy it. Their latest collaboration is called Moonshine, from Image Comics, and like much of their work, it’s a dark and twisted tale that features an ugly cast of characters and some brutal violence. It’s also beautiful and one of the most expertly crafted first issues I have ever read.
The setup of Moonshine is a crossover of two genres. On one hand, you have a prohibition-era gangster tale and on the other. you have a werewolf horror story. Set in backwoods of West Virginia, Moonshine captures the creepiness of a backwards small town perfectly. The story feels small and intimate, but the landscape is vast and the lore is even bigger. By the end of this first issue, you’ll be hooked into this world hard. Nothing is what it seems and death is awaiting around every corner.
Azzarello writes the best page turns in comics, as once you start one of his books you can’t stop. That is on full display in Moonshine #1. Right from the opening scene, which features some federal agents wandering a bit too far off the path in search of some bootleggers, you are engrossed in the story. Each scene bleeds into the next; it’s all seamless and the pacing is pitch perfect. If you’re a fan of Azzarello’s work, this is him at his best. If you’re generally turned off by his stuff, we’d still suggest giving Moonshine #1 a look. It’s good enough to convert non-fans.
All that aside, Moonshine #1 is still a comic you should buy because of Eduardo Risso, whose art is unbelievable. Nobody delivers atmosphere and mood like him, and nobody unfolds a story better. Risso is at the top of his game in Moonshine, better even than his previous high water mark of 100 Bullets. Even if you don’t actually read a word, you’ll marvel at the storytelling Risso provides. Stunning doesn’t even began to describe it; Moonshine is a whole other level.
Risso is also coloring himself here, and that only adds to the book’s gorgeousness. His soft, earth-toned palette is accented with blue shadows and dark red blood. It creates a visual contrast that pulls your gaze in all the right directions. You don’t just read Moonshine #1, you experience it; it envelops you, worming into your senses and drawing you in.
Moonshine #1 is damn near perfect. There’s nothing quite like a Azzarello/Risso joint, and Moonshine is a notch above the rest. If nothing else, buy this book to see Risso unleashed and creating some of the finest pages he’s ever crafted. Five out of five burritos.
Image: Image Comics
Benjamin Bailey writes for the Nerdist and can be found on Twitter talking about Godzilla, comic books, and hardcore music.