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Turf

No caption.By Jonathan Ross & Tommy Lee Edwards

Publisher: Image Comics

Format: Hardcover, full color, $39.99

ISBN: 978-1-60706-400-8

Reviewed by: Diamond BookShelf

Prohibition era New York is a complicated and violent place, as gangsters, cops and criminals fight to establish dominance. Ross and Lee up the ante in Turf by introducing flying vampires and futuristic space aliens to the mix, culminating in an explosive brawl near Coney Island.

The story hangs on the choices that people make when faced with chaos. Some characters are more fleshed out than others, but even background characters are presented with the opportunity to "lose control, lose that which makes them human..." or "find themselves amid the horror" and come through as heroes. Characters run the gamut from human to otherwise, including a brooding vampire in search of peace, a corrupt sociopathic cop, an ambitious female reporter, a semi-reformed gangster and a grieving alien from a violent planet. Regardless of their backgrounds, all of these characters discover what matters to them and act accordingly when faced with a major threat. This theme ties all of the disparate elements together and cleverly keeps the story from becoming unwieldy.

The elegant artwork and muted color palette also serve to tie the different story elements together in a consistent style. Artwork and writing complement each other, with the artwork frequently revealing truths that are purposefully left out of the text. The style varies only when we are inside one character's head, such as the corrupt officer O'Leary, whose gruesome childhood is jarringly depicted in the style of late 1900s newspaper comic strips, complete with racial caricatures.

This instance in particular has material that could offend readers glancing at it out of context, so librarians and teachers should be aware that it is there. In addition, the book contains graphic violence, including sexual violence, and is definitely not intended for young readers. There is, however, something here for adult fans of many different genres, bringing together vampire romance, science fiction, horror, crime drama and supernatural threats, all set within the culture and style of the late 1920s.