There is a dark underbelly to Hell's Kitchen, and when those who made it dark disappear, who will pick up the slack?
The Kitchen #1 (2014)
Writer: Ollie Masters
Artist: Ming Doyle
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Cover: Becky Cloonan (left), Ming Doyle (right)
This 26 issue contemporary cooking drama is about 3 women and 3 men competing to be on Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen, a cooking show centered around making superhero themed cakes. I kid I kid, that would be dumb. The Kitchen is an 8 issue mini series by Vertigo (the edgy DC imprint).
The women shown on the cover are the wives of successful made men in the 1970s, located in Manhattan's (at the time) crime ridden area, Hell's Kitchen. Everything is going pretty swell... until the husbands get sent to prison. With Jimmy Brennan in prison, it is up to his wife, Kath to take up some of his old duties, starting with collection. The other wives, Raven and Angie, have been shirking this "responsibility" thinking someone else has been taking care of it, but when Raven notices money has been coming in short, Kath decides it's time to tighten her grip.
Kath's intervening starts to transform her immediately much to the curiosity and shock of Raven and Angie. Before they know it, what started out being a matter of familial responsibility and loyalty becomes a powerful calling for Kath, who brings the other two ladies along for the ride that could make their organization even more powerful than before, or destroy it entirely. Ollie Masters does an exceptional job of setting up who these men were in a quick but powerful opening before jumping right into the ladies' story. The character build up in Kath is also quick, but makes the reader want to know what her next move is, and how a potential screw up will effect this crew and their families. I can only assume that Raven and Angie will also get some star treatment during the series, which I am stoked for. This isn't a story about women who are timidly taking over for their husbands or slowly learning the tricks of the trade, this is a story about women who demand a certain amount of respect and how they find out they must earn it.
Ming Doyle's human figures are fantastic! Each one is drawn in a realistic fashion and the amount of detail is very precise, including body type, hair styles, and even make-up. Doyle's facial expressions and posturing creates a whole other level for these characters, as you can feel the confidence, pain or insecurity emanting from them in each panel. The shading is all done using pure black which adds to the seedy nature of the business that Kath, Angie, and Raven are in as well as the bleakness of Hell's Kitchen. Each building that is shown has a distinct personality, giving the chance for more world building and the desire to explore that world. Jordie Bellaire also deserves mention for giving further atmosphere to the characters. She also provides a color scheme that makes the clothes, wallpapers, etc even more period.
All in all this is a strong start and a new take on mob stories. Masters and Doyle make you question how things will go for the characters, who their competitors in the Kitchen are, what their families are like, and what will happen when their husbands will get out of jail all in one issue! I get the feeling that this is going to be a very character driven tale, with plot twists, and events that will leave a lasting mark on all of the characters. The first issue is still very accessible online or at your LCS and the second issue come out on the 17th of this month, and at a $2.99 price point, it is well worth a gander. As always, thanks for reading.