Normandy Gold #1
Written by Megan Abbot and Alison Gaylin
Art by Steve Scott and Lovern Kindzierski
Lettering by Comicraft
Published by Titan Comics/Hard Case Crime
‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10
“Let nothing make you afraid. All things pass away. God never changes. Patience obtains everything.”
Titan Comics and Hard Case Crime have delivered another knockout with the debut of Normandy Gold #1. A rare but refreshing bit of female-led and female-written crime, Normandy Gold #1 stands as a brutally poetic and emotionally raw new series in what could be arguably a new “golden age” of crime comics.
Written by seasoned crime writers Megan Abbot and Alison Gaylin, this debut follows the hard as nails Sheriff Normandy Gold as she receives a strange phone call from her sister moments before her death. Normandy then travels to Washington, D.C. to infiltrate the prostitution ring her sister was mixed up in and bring her killer to justice, by any means. Though this plot hits plenty of the lurid beats and employs the sexually-charged energy of ‘70s crime films, Abbot and Gaylin make this an intrinsically feminine story, always giving Normandy agency along with crushingly beautiful insight into her childhood and her tumultuous upbringing that led her to carry a badge.
Artist Steve Scott and G.I. Joe’s breakout colorist star Lovern Kindzierski breathe sleezy, but engaging life into Abbot and Gaylin’s script; Scott provides lean, Steve Epting-esque character action and panel perspective while Kindzierski brings it all home with a grainy, film stock color palette that truly sells the era and focus of the story. With Hard Case Crime you can usually expect to get what you pay for just based on the often steamily enticing covers, but Normandy Gold #1 gives you all that and more, with a pointedly feminist energy and a fully fleshed out and engaging cast.
Right from the jump, Megan Abbot and Alison Gaylin let you know that this is a woman’s story. Calling to mind the first and current season of Fargo and chilly crime procedurals like Top of the Lake, the pair start small but then gradually get bigger and bigger as the debut goes on. It is a very smart play as it allows us to quickly see how capable and steely Normandy is. The writers introduce her in media res, cleaning her latest prey as she hunts and narrates about the origin of her name. The story itself is heartbreaking, which is a pretty consistent felling you’ll have reading this #1, but works so, so well as a sequence because you instantly know what kind of badass you will be following for the duration and then Abbot and Gaylin have you and they don’t let you go for a good while.
After the inciting action of her sister’s phone call, which is given a tense, gradual scale by Steve Scott and Lovern Kindzierski, this debut leave the wooded lushness of Oregon for the slightly smudged marble of Washington, D.C. and the continuing of Gold’s investigation into her sister’s death. Aided by an appropriately upscale in the contrast of colors by Kindzierski, moving from warm in Oregon to almost bleached out in D.C., Abbot and Gaylin dive into the seedy world of vice hiding just below the surface of Washington, but never once stop revealing things about Normandy’s childhood.
The mystery itself is pretty engaging as is Normandy’s partner, Detective Paul Sturges, who helps provide a well-placed if somewhat sluggish exposition dump. But I sincerely cannot overstate how powerfully feminist this debut is. While Abbot and Gaylin engage happily in the... ahem, “carnal” staples of ‘70s crime, this is still every bit a woman’s story being told by women and that can’t go unnoticed by both a crime and comic audience starving for more stories about women. Sure to please both groups, and more than likely those unfamiliar with the dark delights of Hard Case Crime, Normandy Gold #1 is a winner in every sense of the word. If you want your crime comic books cleanly drawn, with tonally rich colors, and starring a female protagonist that can absolutely, positively get s@#$ done, then head to your local comic shop this week and ask for her by name - Normandy Gold.