MonkeyBrain Comics’ ‘High Crimes’ #1 Review and Creator Interview
New MonkeyBrain Comics series “High Crimes” debuts with more beautifully rendered crime and intrigue than you can shake a severed limb at.
For the past week, writer Christopher Sebela has been previewing bits and pieces of his new MonkeyBrain Comics series “High Crimes” with artist Ibrahim Moustafa. (And if you aren’t following Sebela on Twitter already, you should be. I’ve mentioned before about how funny he is on The Internet. While you’re at it, hit up Moustafa as well.) The promos have been dynamic and enticing…in the way that only severed hands and blacked out text can be.
Even so, I didn’t really know what to expect from “High Crimes”. Something about a mountain. And crime, definitely crime. That severed hand again. Agents, but of what? I actually didn’t read the solicits, (I guess that means the Tumblr campaign worked, guys) so I came at this first issue with just honest excitement about what on earth (mountain?) Sebela and Moustafa had in store.
Let’s find out.
“High Crimes” opens 28,894 feet above sea level on the southeast ridge of Mount Everest. There’s a dead guy, Sullivan Mars, and a live guy, Haskell Price, at the start of a beautiful relationship. They exchange numbers, make plans to hang out later…just kidding. Price cuts off Mars’ hand (ohhhhh) and we’re off. (I guess now is as good a place as any to mention that even though MonkeyBrain Comics has a wonderful selection of all ages books, this isn’t one of them. If you couldn’t tell already, there’s violence and language that’s definitely inappropriate for kids. Just saying.)
We jump down (Literally. Ha.) to Katmandu and meet Zan Jensen, failed Olympic snowboarder. She and Price are partners in the business of retrieving the bodies of climbers from the summit. I didn’t know that was a thing, to be honest. I assume most of you have the same vague awareness of Everest and its dangers that I do, and I definitely know that those who die on the mountain tend to stay on the mountain, so the idea of…can we call it a racket if they actually do get the bodies?…of a business built around such a morbid opportunity is kind of intriguing. (But this deadly Everest stuff is still very scary and very real. Artist Ibrahim Moustafa told me Chris Sebela gave him a copy of “Into Thin Air” as part of his research for drawing this comic. I shivered just reading the description.) I really liked the way this expository information was presented, by the way. We see Price getting a series of voice mail messages, just enough of an aural snippet to illustrate the nature of the job. And Moustafa’s panel layouts and close ups are wonderful.
There’s no disputing Jensen’s life is a mess. She’s hiding from her past and hiding from her future, even though she calls climbing Everest her “golden ticket” out. There’s obviously a helluva backstory waiting to be shared, what with the Olympics and the drugs and the moving to Nepal, so I hope in future issues of “High Crimes” we get some more details. Price passes the prints from Mars’ hand to a police contact for identification and then everything goes sideways.
The final two pages of “High Crimes” #1 leave the mountains behind for something even more sinister. Sullivan Mars wasn’t just another climber. Sullivan Mars was a man of many talents and many secrets, and his former employer has been tracking his disappearance for two decades. With
eight seven agents at his disposal, the man in charge orders them to scrub the scene, since “anyone who knows [Mars'] name is a liability.” That means Jensen and Price, most definitely. Poor Zan. I’m pretty sure your messy life is about to get a whole lot worse.
Now, because this is a brand new series from MonkeyBrain Comics, I wanted to give you all a little more incentive than the wicked cheap 99¢ cover price to check it out at Comixology. I had the chance to talk with Chris Sebela and Ibrahim Moustafa to find out about their creative process and what else might be coming down the “High Crimes” pipeline.
That’s it from me, friends. Go check out “High Crimes” #1 from MonkeyBrain Comics, available for 99¢ only through Comixology. Come back here and tell me what you think, chat me up on Twitter, or go directly to the source at MonkeyBrain Comics.