Charles's Reviews > Blacksad: A Silent Hell

Blacksad by Juan Díaz Canales
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's review
Nov 30, 2015

really liked it
bookshelves: manga-graphic-novels, mystery, stat_3, reviewed

Stuff I Read – Blacksad: A Silent Hell by Juan Díaz Canales Review

Ah, back to the world of Blacksad, which is basically our world but with more animal-people. Which, to be honest, makes it a much more interesting world. I'm all about the anthropomorphized animal stories, so this volume is like slipping on a comfy sweater. One, I guess, decorated with pictures of dead people. Hmm…perhaps I should just ditch the metaphor and get on with the review. Here we see Blacksad in a new location, living it up in New Orleans with his new assistant, Weekly. I will admit, the pairing is great, as Weekly made a strong addition to the previous chapter, someone to play off Blacksad's moods, which have been a little…dark. Obviously what he needs is a good mystery to get the blood pumping again. Good thing, I guess, that the little matter he was looking into starts turning up dead bodies…

I must say, the artwork continues to be a huge draw to this series. The faces emote, the settings sizzle and everything just really, really works. Characters might be a little streamlined thanks to the use of animals, but it makes them no less gorgeously rendered. The setting especially, the light work and the expressions, really make Blacksad and his world come alive. There is a magic to it that is subtle but constant, the way the shadows heighten the mystery, the way that nothing is quite what it seems. It's bringing Blacksad from the last chapter, which was very grounded and dark and violent, to a new place, one with a bit more wonder and awe and, yes, hope, even when the story takes a number of dark, dark turns.

And it does. The story this time around has all the classic Blacksad misery. It's dark and the twisted web laying over everyone is gripping and tragic and delves deeply into the past, layering sins atop sins as Blacksad first stumbles and then drives relentlessly toward the truth. He's still not back to his easy-going ways, but a little bit of the old cat is coming back, and in the mean time Weekly makes an excellent foil and fool. And the plot is pulled together pretty well, with some classic mystery tropes that play out pretty well. The story behind the story, that of the wealthy eating the poor, is handled okay as well, and it's obvious that's what draws Blacksad back in after everything, his desire to fight for t he little guy. That all said, of course there are elements that aren't exactly the greatest. The book does a nice job playing with the noir toys but doesn't really subvert them. Women are still forced into some pretty narrow roles and there's a certain glory of violence that is presented as masculine.

Still, the story holds together and the art shines. Blacksad himself is starting to get over his mopes and enjoy life again (perhaps with a quick save from some sort of weird magic cat-guy). The sense of mystery is strong, the dialogue is snappy, and the resolution is fitting. A fine volume, all told (though much shorter than the first US volume). It includes this time an extended behind the scenes type of thing, which is quite interesting but doesn't quite make up for not having another story included in the collection. But so it goes. An 8/10 for me.
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Reading Progress

November 30, 2015 – Started Reading
November 30, 2015 – Shelved
November 30, 2015 – Shelved as: manga-graphic-novels
November 30, 2015 – Shelved as: mystery
November 30, 2015 – Shelved as: stat_3
November 30, 2015 –
page 112
100.0% "Another strong Blacksad story. Quite enjoyed."
November 30, 2015 – Finished Reading
January 7, 2016 – Shelved as: reviewed

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