Area 10

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In New York City, a killer known as "Henry The Eighth" leaves a trail of decapitated corpses. There are no apparent clues, beyond the fact that he keeps the severed heads to use for purposes unknown.
NYPD Detective Adam Kamen leads the investigation, until a seemingly unrelated freak incident leaves him with an injury to his brain, in a section known as "Brodmann Area 10." When he recovers, Adam's perceptions of time are altered. He becomes slowly convinced that his bizarre ...
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In New York City, a killer known as "Henry The Eighth" leaves a trail of decapitated corpses. There are no apparent clues, beyond the fact that he keeps the severed heads to use for purposes unknown.
NYPD Detective Adam Kamen leads the investigation, until a seemingly unrelated freak incident leaves him with an injury to his brain, in a section known as "Brodmann Area 10." When he recovers, Adam's perceptions of time are altered. He becomes slowly convinced that his bizarre condition could be tied directly to the "Henry" case and that the key may lie in the ancient, mystical practice of trepanation.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A gripping, fast-paced thriller, AREA 10 crosses a noirish detective saga with the eerie jolts of a Stephen King shocker, adding up to a new breed of graphic crime novel with a staggering climax." --Nicholas Pileggi, author of Goodfellas and Casino

"Mind Blowing! Eye opening! ...Okay, enough with the metaphors, it's just really, really cool!" --Max Brooks, NYT Bestselling author or World War Z

"A moody, compelling thriller superbly told.  Area 10 is a breakneck ride. Time after time, I thought I had it figured out, then got thrown at the next bend of the road." --Mike Carey, writer of THE UNWRITTEN

"An exquisitely creepy crime story loaded with twists. Gage and Samnee make one hell of a team. Thanks to them I'll forever be uncomfortable around power drills." --Jason Aaron writer of SCALPED

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—New York Detective Adam Kamen is having a rough time. After his wife unexpectedly loses their baby, she divorces him. His new case, following the decapitating serial killer nicknamed "Henry the Eighth," isn't helping his stress level. When he leaps into action one fateful afternoon to stop an apparently insane man from sticking a screwdriver into a baby's skull, it's Kamen who ends up with the hole in his head. He survives, but starts seeing some really weird things. Sometimes people look older, sometimes younger. Sometimes he sees things happen before they actually do. He confides in Dr. Avery, the beautiful woman responsible for his initial recovery. As Kamen draws closer and closer to the killer, everyone around him begins to suspect that he might not be as fully recovered as they first thought. Set in a noir-inspired art style, the black-and-white illustrations first highlight the characters on the page with deceptively detailed backgrounds. Each panel will draw teens into the action while the mysterious story unfolds. It's almost as if each panel is slightly out of focus, mirroring the idea that Kamen cannot rely on what his eyes are really telling him.—Ryan Donovan, New York Public Library
Publishers Weekly
In a page-turning mix of science fiction and noir thriller, New York City detective Adam Kamen is on the trail of the serial killer Henry the Eighth, so named for his penchant for decapitating his victims. Kamen is a familiar character—hard-boiled, independent, a guy with a tough exterior but emotions that run deep. A head injury in the midst of the investigation gives Kamen unusual powers and leads to an exploration of trepanation—deliberately drilling a hole in the skull—as well as introducing him to a beautiful psychiatrist who develops an interest in his case. Gage not only has written for such comics as Iron Man and Spider Man, but also has penned episodes of Law and Order. At times the plot reads like a tightly written episode of that show; he even throws in a reference to Hudson University, where so many students have met their end in the long-running television series. The supernatural element sets the plot apart, however, making it difficult to predict the next plot twist and keeping the story from veering into cliché. Samnee's sharp black and white illustrations create an ominous atmosphere and give readers a palpable sense of Kamen's growing panic as chaos descends. (Apr.)
The Barnes & Noble Review

From Sarah Weinman's "THE CRIMINALIST" column on The Barnes & Noble Review

Last summer DC Comics' graphic novel division Vertigo launched a new imprint that, from the standpoint of many people, was a long time in coming. For years a number of crime writers had gravitated towards the comics realm, from Charlie Huston's run with Moon Knight, Greg Rucka's take on Batman (expanded into a novel titled Batman: No Man's Land), and Duane Swierczynski's interpretations of superhero sidemen Cable and the Immortal Iron Fist.

But there have also been signs of crime writers making dramatic use of comics fomats -- with no capes in sight: Hannah Berry's masterful Britten and Brulightly, her homage and tweaking of classic detective fiction, Darwyn Cooke's excellent adaptation of Richard Stark's The Hunter, and West Coast Blues, Jacques Tardi's slimmed down and speeded up adaptation of Jean-Patrick Manchette's 3 to Kill.

Vertigo's two launch titles last August exemplified comics' dual track, since Ian Rankin's Dark Entries dropped John "Hellblazer" Constantine into the emotional quagmire that is a reality show (and illustrated, via Werther Dell'Edera's broad-brushstroke artwork, the torments awaiting the contestants) and Brian Azzarello and Victor Santos's Filthy Rich mined Nixon-era exploitation films for its caustic look at fast-fermenting celebrity culture. Both books, however, traveled the common road paved by the ethos of noir fiction, where a decent ending is one where the protagonist doesn't end up in hell. To drive the retro-pulp point home, these and future Vertigo titles deployed a black-and-white color scheme, emphasizing contrast over nuance, overt violence over psychological subtlety.

Having set its tonal template, Vertigo Crime laid low for a few months before starting in earnest at the beginning of 2010. The Chill, by Jason Starr and Mick Bertilorenzi, was both a wise and nervy choice to start the year: Starr's standalone novels, such as Hard Feelings and The Follower, sustain a mood not unlike the perpetual unscratchable itch on one's back, and go Highsmith-level deep into the sociopathic mind. When he partners with Irishman Ken Bruen, the collaborative efforts (Bust, Slide, The Max) result in gleeful, over-the-top comedy. It's that hybrid voice that seeps into The Chill, a tale of vicious serial murder in contemporary Manhattan that has its roots in a centuries-old Celtic myth of corrupted feminine power and the transmogrification of sex into death. Starr clearly has fun playing with old-world paranormal storytelling, as does Bertilorenzi with his lurid, Tarantino-esque illustrations of those who kill and are killed.

Oddly, the anti-heroes of both The Chill and veteran comics writer Peter Milligan's The Bronx Kill share a first name, though their occupations and plights couldn't be any more different. Starr's Martin Cleary is an Irish émigré, a Boston police detective, ensnared in the old-new culture clash because his lost love, Arlana, is embroiled in the escalating crimes. Martin Keane, on the other hand, had no desire to be a cop and emulate his garrulous, hard-drinking old man. Instead he writes, with one successful novel under his belt and a less successful one in the works, happy in a marriage that keeps the dark past at bay. At least until his wife disappears and Martin's the prime suspect, and that past resurfaces, in the form of some nasty family secrets, way up in a desolate, abandoned area -- the "kill," from a Dutch word for stream -- in New York's uppermost borough.

Though the story isn't uplifted by James Romberger's illustrations -- more serviceable than artistic -- Milligan more than makes up by mixing in excerpts from Martin's manuscript, its fragments furthering the story of what happened to Martin's wife. He also saves the best line for the homeless man who haunts the garbage-filled Kill, setting Martin straight on the ultimate source of the place's violence: "it's people that makes people crazy."

That sentiment could easily apply to Area 10, Christos Gage's work of neurological suspense, which takes self-mutilation to an extreme both natural and horrifying. Ancient cultures considered trepanation -- drilling a hole through the skull -- to be a pain reliever, a stress inducer, and in some instances, a way to see beyond time. Such ideas are thoroughly discredited today, but for NYPD detective Adam Kamen, this form of pseudoscience feels eerily familiar, as his own brain injury in the line of duty happened in similar fashion, and unexplained time perceptions have further ill-explained connections to -- wait for it -- another series of gory murders (in the land of Vertigo Crime, Manhattan is crawling with grisly killers content with ever-more-pornographic methods of murder. Call it an occupational hazard of the comic book world.)

The narrative is fairly standard -- to the point where the beautiful resident shrink, of course, sleeps with Kamen -- but pulls off the mind-bending trick of making you believe long-discredited theories might still have some truth to them. Area 10's main star, though, is the gore (rendered in appropriately gut-churning detail by Chris Samnee's stark artwork). And that seems fitting: if you're going to dive into another realm, shouldn't it take drastic, blood-drenched measures?

Yet none of these graphic novels is Vertigo Crime's darkest. That honor goes to The Executor, Canadian thriller writer Jon Evans and Italian artist Andrea Mutti's doom-drenched account of a former NHL hockey bruiser who returns to his upstate New York hometown at the posthumous behest of his former girlfriend. Avid genre readers will know how this story will go, because revisiting the past also means unearthing ugly skeletons, but the storyline Evans concocts travels all the way down to Inferno's ninth circle, with side trips into attitudes about Aboriginal culture and the downside of running drugs. Mutti's illustrations also keep the ever-increasing horror show just on the side of reality, such that the bruiser's final acknowledgement of wrongs that can never be righted smack with the force of a cleanly hit puck.

My one criticism of Vertigo Crime to date is that it's been a boys' club, reveling in violence that, while entertainingly lurid, lacks depth. Of course, the comics world is deliberately double-dimensional, and shouldn't apologize for being so. But I can't help but look forward to a planned entry from two sharp-witted female purveyours of contemporary noir, Edgar Award winner Megan Abbott and Edgar nominee Alison Gaylin. Between the two of them their novels run the gamut from Dreiser-like tragedy (Bury Me Deep) to celebrity-obsession satire (Trashed).  Their joint graphic effort -- like Christa Faust's Money Shot, the only Hard Case Crime novel to date by a woman -- should mine some very interesting sociological territory as part of its quest to give the reader some Black Mask-like fun.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401210670
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Publication date: 4/13/2010
  • Pages: 184
  • Product dimensions: 8.32 (w) x 5.76 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Creepy crime thriller!!

    Area 10, by Gage and Samnee, is a dark, gritty crime novel that explores an insanely strange topic while being super creepy. The main character, a cop with issues, isn't anything new but those issues and how they're dealt with are very interesting. The bad guy in the book is evil and villainous. The art, although in black and white, is superb. Sometimes wit monochromatic art there can be difficulty distinguishing between characters and events. Not here. Chris Samnee is remarkable. This Vertigo Crime book, while pricey is very good.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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