Destroy All Monsters

Image Comics. (Reckless, Bk. 3). Oct. 2021. 144p. ISBN 9781534319240. $24.99. GRAPHIC NOVELS
The third installment in Brubaker’s and Phillips’ Southern California–set noir series (following Friend of the Devil) opens in 1988. Unlicensed investigator/troublemaker Ethan Reckless is estranged from his assistant Anna (both are white) because of his vocal disapproval of Anna’s latest boyfriend. When a local Black politician approaches Ethan for help taking down a business tycoon who habitually preys upon Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs, Ethan accepts the job, in the hope that ruining such a vile figure will bring him and punky, idealistic Anna together again. Ethan and Anna soon uncover a web of corruption involving blackmail, bribery, and an underground brothel. Ethan advises his client to notify the FBI; when the politician instead takes drastic action, Ethan and Anna find themselves targeted by vicious enemies.
VERDICT Phillips imbues the sun-drenched splendor of Southern California with a nostalgic mournfulness perfectly keyed to Brubaker’s script. Focusing on the fragile bond between Ethan and Anna exposes new depths in both of the characters, while building to a wrenchingly emotional climax.
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