From Publishers Weekly
This big volume, the third in the series, is an incredible value with a very high gem-to-dud ratio. Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer: Dark City run of Sunday paper serials is presented in its original turn-the-book-sideways glory; Jack Kirby's The Money-Making Machine Swindlers is a retro blast, complete with cautionary monologue from the femme fatale. An opportunity is missed with the selection made to represent Will Eisner's The Spirit
; the story chosen is tame and insubstantial. But there are a few standouts that make this book a strong buy candidate even for people who don't normally go in for noir: Max Allan Collins's Ms. Tree taking maternity leave; a lengthy continuity from Dashiell Hammett's newspaper strip Secret Agent X-9, with art by the great Alex Raymond; and most spectacular of all, an utterly odd story (author unknown) of a blind painter, set in the realm of Ed McBain's 87th Precinct. This wide-ranging collection is high on both visual appeal and entertainment value. (Aug.)
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Once one of the medium’s most popular genres, crime comics all but vanished after implementation of the censorious Comics Code in 1954. But as comics expert Gravett shows in this massive black-and-white compendium, many foremost comics talents continued turning out tales of miscreants and murderers. The generous page count allows Gravett to include not only the expected choices, such as Dashiell Hammett’s 1930s newspaper strip Secret Agent X-9 and Will Eisner’s masked crime fighter the Spirit, but also any number of gratifying surprises. The genre’s heyday is represented by such leading figures as Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Plastic Man creator Jack Cole, and masterful innovator Alex Toth, as well as two stories written by Mickey Spillane, whose career started in comics. The most unexpected entries are two written by superstar scripter Alan Moore, one by Sandman writer Neil Gaiman, and one starring underground artist Charles Burns’ masked wrestler–private dick El Borbah. In-the-know aficionados will prize a true rarity, Bernie Krigstein’s last hurrah before leaving comics for the fine arts, an adaptation of TV’s 87th Precinct. --Gordon Flagg