Brownsville

Friday, March 17, 2006

You know, I haven't seen a lot of bloggers talking up Neil Kleid and Jake Allen's Brownsville yet - I've seen Sean Maher's review and then everything else I've read has been on Comic Book Resources and Newsarama but no real buzz beyond that.

So, to do my part to get people talking about this book, I'm going to give up my copy to one blogger who posts in the comments section, chosen at random, with the caveat that upon receiving the book you need to write a review of it on your own blog and then pass it along to someone else. I'll pick one person next Friday - so you have a week to post something in the comments section.

Breaking it down: free comic. And not just a free comic. A free comic that retails at $19, I just bought this past weekend, and I loved so much that I want to make sure other people pick it up.

To kick it off, I’ll even break my own no reviewing rule (for the second time this week) and drop some words on Brownsville, a 200+ page, wonderfully designed hardcover about the rise and fall of the Jewish gangsters who made up "Murder, Inc", one of the most feared hit-men operations in America. I think you can really break it down with six syllables:

GODFATHER II with Jews.

I was 12 years-old in 1990, perfect timing for GOODFELLAS to be my first exposure to mafia movies. Before that it was whatever old black & whites they used to run on Channel 11 back in the day – the old G-Men vs. mobster kind of flicks with squinty-eyed guys running around firing Tommy guns and using words like flatfoot, spondulix and chopper squad. GODFATHER didn’t come until a couple of years later, it didn’t have the flash, one-liners and the excessive cursing of a movie like GOODFELLAS or SCARFACE and it didn’t hold my pre-teen attention for all that long.

I tried it again when I was old enough to appreciate it and it left enough of an impression to get me to go rent GODFATHER II the same day. The thing with GODFATHER II, what made it so memorable for me, was the fact that we got a glimpse of organized crime before it was well organized. When it was hoods trying to make a name for themselves in their neighborhood and never really seeing how far their little empire can expand – until DeNiro came in and turned a neighborhood racket into a well organized crime family with national (and eventually international) influence. That movie forced me to expand my awareness of La Cosa Nostra, look into its roots and legends more – it fueled a desire to learn more about the beginnings of organized crime.

BROWNSVILLE made me hungry as well. What’s interesting about the rise of the Jewish mafia as described in BROWNSVILLE was that it came at a time when the Italians were already running the streets. In BROWNSVILLE we see this movement where freelance hitmen acting within their own neighborhood organize and become a deadly outfit. And behind it all, Neil does a great job of capturing the motivations and fears of the people being pulled around in this climb (and eventual fall) of Murder Inc.

Jake’s artwork is phenomenal – the action scenes are full of energy and the character moments – like my favorite scene where gangster Allie Tannenbaum and his father have it out at his sister’s wedding – is executed with so much passion and emotion, making a scene that would normally be glanced over as talking heads wrap you up even further into the story and force you to feel this rift between father and son grow even further apart.

Highly recommended, you should all go out and buy it, and one lucky poster will get a free copy sent to their doorstep in exchange for a review and a promise to pass it on.

So, get to posting.

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