Moonshine, Vol. 1 by Brian Azzarello is another in a line of terrific Image Comic titles that remind us of what makes the smaller distributors of comics (not Marvel or DC) so great. Years ago, a tale like Moonshine would have been relegated to the back rows of comic books, hidden behind doors and stacked under a sign depicting age restrictions and stamped with adult themes of sex and violence. And the supernatural. Or worse, so heavily censored that it would have lost its very soul, and soul is something Azzarello infuses into his storytelling. Soul. Dark and gritty yes. Violent and lustful yes. But soul none the less.
Its the Prohibition era and mob pretty boy, Lou Pirlo is sent from New York City by Mob Boss Joe Masseria to the backwoods of Appalachia, to find and deal with the best Moonshiner in West Virginia, Hiram Holt. Lou has always been a pretty boy, brought in to make the room look good but never ever given any thing real to do. This is the first time the Boss has given Lou any responsibility. The first time he’s put any faith in Pirlo. Lou figures this for an easy job. Just drive up into the hills and make a deal with some back wood hillbillies.
What Lou finds is a family that is as dark and violent as the mob he represents. A man in Hiram Holt who is not ready to give up control of the moonshine operation that he built. What Lou finds is that there is far more in the hills of Appalachia, far greater secrets than the moonshine. What Lou finds is the stuff of nightmares and children stories. What Lou finds in himself, caught in the crossfires of a violent war with no way out.
The team of Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Russo, who brought us the Eisner award winning 100 Bullets, team up again for this crime noire horror tale that is sure to delight old fans and raise the eyebrows of new ones. This is storytelling. This is comic books at its finest. You don’t need tights or robotic suits to tell a good story, you don’t need Infinity Wars and Clone Sagas. Sometimes all you need is a gangster, a dark night in the woods and a secret that nightmares are made out of.
And some moonshine.