Writer: Brian Azzarello, Artist/Colorist/Cover: Eduardo Risso, Letters/Design: Jared Fletcher.
I have been a fan of everything Azzarello & Risso have collaborated on, from 100 Bullets to their Batman run. Always fascinating to read, always beautiful to look at. Every issue. I have no idea how their current collab on Image’s Moonshine got 17 issues along before I finally noticed it, but better late than never. The only good thing is: now I have 16 earlier issues to binge.
The series takes place during Prohibition, when moonshiners evaded the law to provide home-crafted distilled spirits to customers willing to pay on the downlow. Moonshine is not only a tale of a family desperate to keep their illegal liquor operation a secret, but family secrets as well. Secrets of a supernatural nature. This tale is full of dark magic, the undead, werewolves, and more. There’s even an ongoing business struggle with New York mobsters who are demanding hooch shipments from the family; seeing them visit and try to navigate the bayou is fish-out-of-water amusement.
The fish-out-of-water mobsters are a hoot. the bottom panel is positive-negative mirror image genius.
At the center of it all is Azzarello’s usual tragic love story. He excels at pulp romance narration and dialogue, and the highs and lows of relationships. Risso always does a great job with body language to capture exactly what Azzarello is writing. You can feel the anguish, the hangovers, the desire, even in wordless panels.
Risso is a master of black and white art; heavy blacks, lots of silhouettes and the ability to communicate volumes with as few lines as necessary is his forte. Colors aren’t needed to make Risso’s illustrations come alive, but they do enhance them and take them to another level of excellence and mood. In Moonshine, those moody hues are provided by Risso himself, his usual muted palette always reminding me of Dave Stewart’s Hellboy style. Every page seems to be a work of art.
Risso's beautiful color gradations and details...like the rippled reflection of the lantern light in the river
Azzarello & Risso are not usually ones for heavy-handed visual metaphors, but there’s a whopper in a scene where a witch woman with black widowy intentions says “Follow me into the woods,” and we see spiders weaving webs in more than one panel.
It’s always interesting to see Risso include his Oriental-stamplike signature on interior pages he particularly likes; it adds extra emphasis on what are usually significant events.
I look forward to catching up on what I have missed so far, and seeing where the story goes from here. Now that I know about Moonshine, I’m not going to want to miss a single drop.
Moonshine #17 from Image Comics is available March 11, 2020.