Sam and Twitch OHC1-2
This is sort of @Matthew1's fault and that Shelf Porn thread he started as these volumes were on one of the shelves and they looked kind of nice. Still, buying a pair of OHCs because they look nice? That's too big a gamble even for me so I went looking for info, found an Amazon preview of the first volume and found myself reading it and really liking it, that was enough. Oh and did I mention that it's by Bendis? Yeah, that Bendis.
Bendis gets a huge amount of flak these days. Nor is it entirely undeserved as I've found his work of recent years - Ultimate Spidey with Miles Morales / X-Men - to be unfulfilling. It's not bad as such, but it lacks direction - I got to the end of the pre-Secret Wars Miles run and the story is just left hanging, as if no one cared about it anymore. X-Men? Came to be similar. Which, reading this much earlier work from 1999-2004 is a damn shame because this was excellent.
One of the things I enjoyed in the preview and the book itself is the dialogue, that style that could be dubbed the Bendis-flow. It's easily one of his trademarks but it works far better on crime stories like this than superheroes. At the same time the choice of art emphasises the sheer fucked-up nature of Sam and Twitch's lives, the cases they have to deal with in a hellish environment. (Later it looks like there might be a change in that, don't count on it, the normal rules reassert themselves with a vengeance.) There's art from Maleev in OHC2 as well.
The stories? Bendis does three arcs, McFarlane takes point on the last one, likely as by that time Bendis was likely occupied with the Ultimateverse. They are effective tales of crime and mystery, violence and murder and reading it really shows why it's a shame Bendis hasn't done more of this, as he's very good at it.
There's also some really smart use of lettering - with different styles being used to indicate the characters and, it's often white-on-black, which only adds to the sense of noir atmosphere hanging over the stories.
Did I know or care that these characters were part of McFarlene's Spawn? Not really, but after reading those preview pages, it ceased to be an issue. I nabbed both of the OHCs for just over £18, covering a 26-issue, 19 of them by Bendis. Yeah, I got my money's worth on this one, definitely a worthwhile buy and very good read.