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Detectives Inc. Hardcover – November 3, 2009

5.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"DETECTIVES INC. is a dramatic book: It is tense and powerful and draws one into its action...it is easy to be attracted to a Captain America or a Superman, because he is a dream, an ideal. It is less easy to become attracted to a human being, and this is one of the things that Don McGregor and Marshall Rogers do here: they assert (and show) that two detectives, the divorced wife, two lovers separated by death from their common object of passion and others, can be just as exciting, as powerful, as dramatic an ensemble as the Avengers or the Justice League of America." -- Peter Gillis, COMICS FEATURE<br /><br />"DETECTIVES INC. is a tour de force for writer/creator Don McGregor and illustrator Marshall Rogers. It is one of the new breed of mature underground productions that places people and relationships ahead of superheroism and bizarre, horrific plots.

McGregor's Culp and Cosby type detective team of Ted Denning and Bob Rainier live in a Philip Marlowe existence on the seamy side of 1980 New York. Although the plot is fairly simple, their lives are refreshingly complex and the two stories are well blended with the help of Rogers' excellent black and white illustrations." -- Howard Zimmerman<br /><br />"The writing and illustrations owe far more to the techniques of the motion picture than to comic books, with cross cutting and other film innovations used most effectively to tell the story of a murder with roots in a lesbian love affair." --ELLERY QUEEN MYSTERY MAGAZINE


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: IDW Publishing (November 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1600104940
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600104947
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.7 x 10.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,645,324 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Christopher Beckett on November 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Detectives Inc. from creator/writer Don McGregor and artist Marshall Rogers is an important work in the evolution of the comic book medium. Best known for his work on Marvel's Black Panther and Killraven, this was a story that had been stewing in the back of McGregor's mind for over a decade. As an author, he had high aspirations for the types of stories he would tell and believed the possibilities for the comic medium had barely been scratched. With Detectives Inc., McGregor did his best to look ahead at what those possibilities could be and eschewed all "conventional wisdom" with regard to how a comic should look and what stories could be told. Knowingly taking a big risk, McGregor dove head first off the deep end and made it work. And it can be argued that with this book he helped to redefine the way comics were viewed.

This was the first book I had read by Don McGregor and I opened the first page with trepidation, worried it would suffer from the stilting dialogue and poor use of exposition prevalent in a lot of work from the early 80s. I was pleasantly surprised to find this was not the case. Certainly, there are spots where the dialogue sometimes gets preachy, but in most of these instances it falls in step with the characterization. The story was very compelling and refused to fall into melodrama. With this book, McGregor brought a gritty realism that I can only assume was sorely lacking within the comics medium at the time this first saw print in 1980.

In my opinion, this is an incredibly important comic. It came at a time, shortly after publication of Will Eisner's A Contract with God, when creators closer to the mainstream began pushing at its boundaries. In Detectives Inc.
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Format: Paperback
Don McGregor and Gene Colan, two giants in the comics industry, crafted a tale that shatters the average person's preconceived notion of what a comic book is supposed to be like. This second volume of Detectives, Inc. features two struggling private investigators named Ted Denning and Bob Ranier, longtime friends whose consciences sometimes lead them to take cases that aren't exactly profitable. Both men have deep scars: Ranier from a painful divorce that has damaged his willingness to seek intimacy, and Denning from a time when he was forced to shoot someone.
Entering their lives is a tough social worker named Dierdre Sevens, who is drawn into trying to help an acquaintance who calls on her desperately when her husband has beaten her one too many times. Unsurprisingly, this friend backtracks on her story when Dierdre shows up and curses her when her husband arrives home. After a physical confrontation with him, Dierdre decides to hire Denning & Rainier to investigate the husband. What follows is a series of twists and turns involving emotional scars, hypocrisy, the bonds of friendship and the possibility of new hope, not to mention murder.
McGregor is a master wordsmith, delving deep into his characters' psyches, both hero and villain. While emotions run high, he's also able to inject a great deal of humor into the story with the easy rapport between the two detectives. Colan has long been respected as one of the greatest artists in the history of comics, and this black & white masterpiece is one of his finest works ever. His specialty is depicting mood & motion as well as being able to portray the subtleties of emotion on the human face.
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Format: Hardcover
IDW is really winning my heart with its reprints of great comics from the 1980's and 1990's. This B&W collection of writer Don McGregor's Detectives, Inc. comic stories comes with several prose pieces on the genesis of the comic, along with a piece on the filming of the Detectives, Inc. movie. My only caveat about the volume is that it's unfortunate that it couldn't be reprinted in a larger format -- the hyper-detailed art of Marshall Rogers on "A Remembrance of Threatening Green" originally appeared in a larger album size, and things do get a little squinty at times.

Quibbles aside, this is a tremendous achievement both in writing and art. The world of McGregor's private detectives, Rainier and Dennings, gets the hypercrisp, hyper-detailed treatment from Marshall Rogers (best known for his Batman work in the 1970's), and the moodier, more humanistic approach from Gene Colan (best known for Tomb of Dracula and about a dozen other books). Both art styles work, and both look great in black and white. Indeed, this may be the late Rogers' greatest work. The attention to detail is stunning, and Rogers experiments with some really fascinating one and two-page designs.

Private detectives aren't all that common in comic books unless they wear costumes or have occult powers. Rainier and Dennings remind me a lot of revisionist 70's PIs from the movies -- not so much Jake Gittes in Chinatown, as Rainier and Dennings are less cynical than Robert Towne's PI, but more the characters we see in films like Night Moves (with Gene Hackman on the case) and Cutter's Way (in which non-PI's John Heard and Jeff Bridges try to solve a case). They're battered and bruised sometimes, emotionally as well as physically, but they stay on the case.
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