Death By Chocolate: Redux (Top Shelf)

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dbc-header.gifDetective stories are a dime a dozen, but when your hard-boiled hero can turn villains into chocolate with just a touch, you know something very different is afoot.


115 pgs. B&W; $14.95

(W / A: David Yurkovich)


Sherlock Holmes, Philip Marlowe, Scooby Doo, Inspector Gadget—even Peter David's new noirish run on X-Factor—oh yes, the detective genre has been done to death. Recognizing the need for a gimmick to sustain his detective series, Death By Chocolate, indie writer/artist David Yurkovich devised a doozy.


The cover to Death By Chocolate: Redux. Click for a larger image.His protagonist, Agent Swete, is comprised entirely of organic chocolate, thanks to a freak accident involving an alien and a vat of molten cocoa at Switzerland's Chocolate Palace. Part King Midas and part Maxwell Smart, Agent Swete possesses the bizarre, surprisingly formidable ability to transform anything and anyone into chocolate through direct contact. Of course, there are drawbacks to Swete's chocolaty lifestyle: he must subsist on a diet of milk, cocoa, and sugar, and naturally, a mysterious criminal has stolen one of his delicious fingers. The purloined digit allows the culprit to mimic Swete's chocolate transformation powers, and by chapter two, he seems to be using them for evil, transforming a whole town into a Willy Wonka wet dream.


Working with the FBI's Food-Crime Division, Swete and his blonde, bespectacled partner Anderson investigate an array of food-related mysteries, including one criminal's search for the mysterious, fountain of youth-like "eternity pasta," and a time-traveling adventure featuring Ernest Hemingway and a talking dog.


As you can see, Death By Chocolate: Redux deftly mixes sci-fi, hard-boiled detection, superhero drama, and absurdist comedy while remaining a confection uniquely its own. Collecting all six Agent Swete stories in a bookshelf format allowed Yurkovich to perform some much-needed color correction, rendering his blacks truly black, and adding to the book's superior noir style. Yurkovich's angular, frenetic drawing style pairs well with his subject matter, and his reliance on small rectangular panels forces casual readers to pay close attention. This comic demands to be read in one sitting in order to appreciate the full scope of Yurkovich's loony vision, and extended author's notes at the back of the book provide an intriguing look at his creative process. Highly recommended for detective buffs, sci-fi junkies, and chocolate addicts of every stripe. | J. Bowers

Click here for a 10-page preview of Death By Chocolate: Redux, courtesy of Top Shelf!

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