The Chill

( 5 )


Sexy supernatural noir puts Vertigo Crime on ice!

A modern thriller set in New York City, THE CHILL is steeped in Irish mythology. A broken-down cop tracks a seductive killer who possesses the supernatural — and very deadly — power known as “The Chill.” It’s a power that provides her eternal life by absorbing the sexual energy of her victims. And he may be the next victim . . .

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Sexy supernatural noir puts Vertigo Crime on ice!

A modern thriller set in New York City, THE CHILL is steeped in Irish mythology. A broken-down cop tracks a seductive killer who possesses the supernatural — and very deadly — power known as “The Chill.” It’s a power that provides her eternal life by absorbing the sexual energy of her victims. And he may be the next victim . . .

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
There seems to be a serial killer at work in New York, hacking up young men in elaborately grotesque ways, and a drunken ex-cop claims that it is the work of some sort of druidic witch, eating souls for immortality. But there's never any mystery or suspense, just one chase from something to something else, with a lot of yelling and killing going on. Starr is known for his novels, including Panic Attack, but his first graphic novel misses the mark. The ugly and nasty script claims it is neo-noir, but it's actually splatterpunk, with a lot of plot holes. Why are the FBI such interfering jerks? No reason, except to frustrate the heroes' attempts. Meanwhile, the borderline racist caricatures of the Irish and Irish druids are practically embarrassing. Bertilorenzi's art is a cut-rate mishmash of Hellboy and Dylan Dog. Often the book feels as if it was a script for the old Night Stalker TV show rewritten as a Cinemax soft-porn movie. (Jan.)
Entertainment Weekly
In the heat of summer, a serial killer sends cold shivers down the spines of New Yorkers in this slashingly drawn graphic novel, with art by Mick Bertilorenzi. It's brutal but funny, hard boiled but sexily romantic.
John Hogan
There will be some of you out there who are unfamiliar with the work of Jason Starr, author of The Chill, the new graphic novel from Vertigo Crime. Starr has written a number of noir novels set primarily in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Each and all of them—from Cold Caller to Fake I.D. to The Follower to Panic Attack and every other novel he's written—are unforgettable, books that you will keep handy to read over and over again. All feature edgy characters caught in bad situations that they have little or no hope of getting out of; in other words, they are people you know, people to whom you are related, people you see when you look in the mirror. Starr is new to the graphic novel world, and publication of The Chill raises a question: How does he make the transition? The answer: brilliantly.

The Chill is an original work for Starr, as opposed to an adaptation of one of his already published novels. Vertigo Crime's format is perfect, not only for the book but for the author: hard-bound, digest size, with black-and white artwork, signaling a bit of a change of direction for Starr's work. While The Chill contains all of the unpredictable elements that make Starr's previous work such a dark joy to read, it is built upon a supernatural plot line that intersects all too closely with the real world. A killer is loose on the streets of Manhattan, isolating and murdering young men, then leaving them in what appears to be a ritualistic position. The circumstances that precede each murder are practically identical, and puzzling. In each case, the victim is last seen in the company of a woman, but none of the witnesses at each scene, including the companions of the victim, canagree upon what she looks like. Further, surveillance cameras at the individual scenes in each case show the victim to be leaving with an elderly woman. This, by the way, is beautifully illustrated by Mick Bertilorenzi, whose skillful pencils masterfully interpret Starr's story, showing the reader what the words do not. The vignette that leads to the initial murder—a group of drunken Jersey boys in the big city for a night on the town—will send chills down your spine and up a few places, as well. The NYPD has no clue at all as to what is going on. Their sole lead is Martin Cleary, a drunken, belligerent ex-Boston cop who insists that the slayings are being carried out by a father/daughter team who are hundreds of years old and who are carrying out an ancient Irish curse. He sounds half mad, and he is; the reader also knows, of course, that he is right. The fact that his presentation is offputting enough in its own right doesn't help his case. Cleary also has a vendetta of his own against the woman in question and her very abusive father. Naturally, there is a showdown, a violent one with a climax that you might expect and an ending that you won't.

The Chill is one hell of a ride, one of those stories that you'll think of at closing time when that woman who has been giving you come-hither glances across the bar for the previous hour suddenly doesn't look so bad after all. What Starr does here is incorporate dark Irish legend into the tapestry of the Manhattan social scene, and convincingly so. I mean, when you pick up a stranger, you really have no idea at all who, or what, you're bringing home, do you? The Chill will make you think twice about entering into that next transitory liaison. And while we're distributing accolades for The Chill, let's not forget to mention Bertilorenzi's work once again. While Starr's narrative could stand on its own, Bertilorenzi's art tells its own story. When, near the beginning of The Chill, Mike and his buds are entering the chaos known as the Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel, Bertilorenzi's subtle attention to detail will make you smell the automobile exhaust rising off of the page and feel the interminable, claustrophobic wait that precedes your entrance. Highly recommended.
Graphic Novel Reporter

Green Man Review
Jason Starr's The Chill kept me reading for an exciting evening....Mick Bertilorenzi has a knack for the female form, it's obvious, but he's also great at using black and white to create a feeling of unease and terror.
—David Kidney
In other words, it's as if "Species" were tossed about in noir dressing, and garnished with green clovers. Starr clearly has fun with the comics format, relishing in the opportunity to play around with a plot that, in strict prose form, might sound silly. However, in the realm of graphic fiction, anything goes. Despite the saucy subject matter, he keeps it just grounded enough from veering over-the-top.
His partner in crime here is artist Mick Bertilorenzi. Although he lives in Italy, you wouldn't know it from the grimy, rain-soaked Big Apple he draws here, in ferocious black and white. His illustrations make the sexy story sexier, the scary parts scarier. "The Chill" is a winner all around, good for more than a few shivers.
—Rod Lott
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—The scene is rural Ireland in 1967. Two young lovers are becoming intimate when Arlana inadvertently does something to her boyfriend, Martin Cleary. She nearly kills him. When she runs to her father for help, he savagely beats her and ominously says, "Your time has come!" Fast forward to present-day New York City. Young men keep meeting the woman of their dreams, only to be savagely murdered when they start to get lucky. An older Martin Cleary figures out that Arlana and her father have traveled to the New World to spread their Druidic nightmare overseas. How can an old man stop such powerful magic? This graphic novel, set in a noir-type world, lacks a coherent story and solid plot. Arlana, the one female character, is depicted as both victim and seductress in equal measure. Readers will feel little sympathy for her situation because it's never really clear why she's following her father's evil wishes. The overall story is scrapped for gratuitous sex, violence, and seemingly every character swearing for no reason other than shock value. The spooky twist at the end will leave most readers underwhelmed.—Ryan Donovan, New York Public Library
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: 9781401225469
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Publication date: 1/18/2011
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.44 (w) x 7.99 (h) x 0.42 (d)

Meet the Author

Jason Starr is the Barry Award and Anthony Award-winning author of nine crime novels which are published in ten languages. The Chill, called "the darkest, sexiest, most twisted noir comic I think I've ever read" by Ed Brubaker, is Starr's first graphic novel. He also writes short stories, screenplays and comics for Marvel and D.C.
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Interviews & Essays

Q&A with Jason Starr, author of THE CHILL

You've written nine novels and numerous screenplays. THE CHILL is your first graphic novel. How was the process of scripting for a graphic novel different from your previous work?
It's a very different process. When I'm writing graphic novels and comics I'm not only thinking about dialogue and storytelling, but I also have to think about space and visual issues. The storytelling in graphic novels is more condensed than in the other mediums, but in a way the brevity makes it more of a challenge, just like it's a challenge to write a great short story or a poem. Ultimately, when I'm writing a graphic novel I feel like I have to use more of my brain, because I'm not only thinking about words.

You're known for writing very dark psychologically taught thrillers set in New York City. In THE CHILL you play with supernatural elements. Was this because you were writing for a different medium?
I always try to push myself in new directions, regardless of the medium. While my crime novels have been grounded in reality, I've always been fascinated by Celtic mythology, and Druid magic, and I've been a big fan of horror fiction for years, so I wanted introduce these elements into a story that, at its core, is a noir crime thriller. The NYPD cops are the center of the story, and the suspense is Hitchcockian in the sense that we--the readers--know more than the heroes. While the story has supernatural elements I wanted to treat this subject matter in a very matter of fact way. It's an insane world, but it's still a world recognizably our own.

THE CHILL is a fast paced murder mystery steeped in Celtic Mythology. What kind of research did you do for the book?
I did more research for THE CHILL than for any book I've ever written before. While my main objective was to write a fun, dark, twisted, sexy, fast-paced story, I wanted to be as accurate as possible about Druid mythology. While I had to make up some stuff about "the chill" itself, most of the supernatural elements in the story--the ritual sacrifice, the shape-shifting, etc-are right out of actual Druid mythology.

The main theme of THE CHILL is the quest for everlasting life. Do you think that's something all humans wish to attain? Would you want to live forever?
I do think a universal human obsession is the quest for everlasting life, and it's also a theme that's prevalent in Celtic mythology. The irony is I think if everlasting life is ever attained, we'd all be on a quest for death. I don't know if I'd want to live forever, but I wouldn't mind living a few hundred years. Let's see if resveratrol works.

The art in graphic novels is very important and helps tell the story. As a writer, was it difficult to hand your script over to an artist to complete? What was it like to see your characters come to life through the art of Mick Bertilorenzi?
It was amazing. Mick is a fearless artist who isn't afraid to go the distance and from the get-go he was in total synch with the twisted insanity of THE CHILL. While there's a lot of humor in the book and we wanted it to be a fun, exciting read, it's also a dark story and many horrific things happen. We knew that pushing things to the edge might offend some people, but it was a risk we were willing to take to be true to our vision and to tell the story we wanted to tell.

Without giving too much away, Bertilorenzi does an amazing job with the many looks of Arlana Flaherty. Did he achieve what you had in mind?
Yes I agree--Bertilorenzi hit it out of the park with Arlana. He makes it look easy, but if you give this book a close read you'll understand what a technical challenge it was to bring this part of the story of to life. One of Mick's great strength is in drawing beautiful women, and let's just say I gave him every opportunity to do that.

Are you a regular reader of graphic novels? Who are some of your favorite authors? Who are some of your favorite crime thriller authors?
Lately I read more graphic novels than novels lately. I read everything by Azzarello, Brubaker and Ennis. I've written an issue of The Punisher and am a fan of all the writers that have been working on that character---including Victor Gischler, Duane Swierczynski, Gregg Hurwitz, and Jason Aaron. I loved The Hunter and Back to Brooklyn. I'm also hooked a lot of Vertigo stuff such as DMZ and Y: The Last Man.

Your career continues on at full speed. You recently published the novel, Panic Attack and we've recently heard that your novel The Follower will be adapted by Bret Easton Ellis, author of American Psycho, for HBO. Are there any other projects in the pipeline?
I just signed a two-book deal with Berkley for a new series--the first novel, THE PACK, will be published in the 2011. THE PACK is also currently in development as a TV series at a major studio and a pilot script is currently being written. I'm also very excited about a couple of upcoming comic projects for Marvel, DC, and Vertigo.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 7, 2010

    Jason Starr - Welcome to Graphic Novels!

    As I am turning 50 this year, sometimes I lie awake at night worrying that Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis and Mark Millar are getting old too. And they are all spending more and more time writing standard super hero comics and less and less time writing for Vertigo. So what is to become of sick, disturbing, gripping, supernatural comics that are exciting and mind-blowing?!!! Fear not, Jason Starr is ready, willing and more than capable of carrying on! The Chill has everything a good supernatural thriller needs: Irish mysticism, spooky art, sex, love, and characters who say "fook" and "Jaysus" a lot. Hard boiled NY cop meets hard boiled Irish cop to battle a serial killing team that terrorizes New York and every sex-starved inhabitant. Jason Starr creates a bizarre and alluring plot set to a furious pace, and Mitch Bertilorenzi complements with compelling scenes of lust, sex and death. Like other works by Starr, it is disturbing and funny and most of the characters set new lows for our species. Yet in this story Starr allows us a spark of hope in the survival, morally and physically, of one likable protagonist. So my advice is, dim the lights, pour yourself a Guiness, settle in a comfortable chair in front of the fire and enjoy the ride. Then, of course, hide the book from anyone under 18.

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  • Posted December 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Recent Reviews of THE CHILL

    Advance Praise for The Chill:

    "The Chill is the darkest, sexiest, most twisted noir comic I think I've ever read." - - Ed Brubaker, Eisner Award Winning Author of Criminal and Incognito

    "THE CHILL is full of more grisly surprises than a backwoods fun house, fusing a noir cop sensibility to a balls-out supernatural thriller. Crime fiction legend Jason Starr makes twin debuts here -- comics and horror -- and shows he's a master of both, right out of the gate. And Mick Bertilorenzi is his perfect partner in crime, with art that refuses to flinch." --Duane Swierczynski, author of The Blonde and the X-Men Series, Cable.

    "A great addition to the best new line in comics, THE CHILL is shadowy and sexy-and pulp in all the best ways. Comics readers are in for a dark delight if they've not yet met Jason Starr, a razor-sharp master of the crime novel. Bertilorenzi's art and layouts manage to be beautifully conventional and innovative at the same time. All in all, a terrific goddamn read." -Gregg Hurwitz, author of TRUST NO ONE

    "It's dark, it's sexy, it's violent...THE CHILL is a blast!" - Barry Eisler, author of Fault Line

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    Posted December 26, 2009

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