Crime Bible: The Five Lessons of Blood #5
“The Parable of the Faceless”
Greg Rucka concluded his mini-series starring Renee Montoya as The Question just last week with issue five of Crime Bible. The mini-series, a spin-off of DC’s last big event 52 deals with Renee’s ongoing rivalry with the ‘Dark Faith’, a religion dedicated to the spread of all the worst things in men. Each of the first four issues dealt with Renee being put through, in some way, one of the ‘Lessons of Blood’ – Deceit, Lust, Greed, and Murder – and in this, she’s put to the test in a way she never imagined as she is allowed entry into the heart of the Religion of Crime and faced with a terrifying prospect: has her time studying the faith changed her?
Issue 5 is a fairly straightforward read that nevertheless has a few tricks up its sleeve, and as the conclusion to the mini-series, marks the time when we have to judge the series as a whole.That final judgment is quite good, but isn’t without its flaws.
On the upside, Rucka has, in five issues, transformed Renee into an almost perfect successor for the mantle of the Question.She’s a dedicated detective who isn’t afraid to take the weird cases.She sees connections that other people don’t.She’s a classy noir hero, clearly living in the same world as Batman and Superman, but dealing with problems that just aren’t on their radar.Rucka has also clearly mastered banter, so there are no two minute monologues between punches, but what is said is generally witty and enlightening.
This issue establishes Renee as a fighter more than the others had, as she’s forced into one-on-one combat with the leader of the faith, Brother Flay.The action sequences are well-done, consistently not too flashy and definitely believable, while still being exciting and fluid in a way that only comics can be.This is largely thanks to the talents of artists Manuel Garcia and Jimmy Palmiotti.While their art doesn’t stand out as the best of the best, or even as the best of the series – that award goes to Matthew Clark for issue #3 – it’s still competent and quite enjoyable.
The downside to it all is, sadly, the ending.The ending is good.The ending leaves Renee in a position few heroes are ever in, tempting her to an insane degree.Of course, Renee is not Superman or Batman, and despite sharing their world, isn’t guaranteed that she’ll be back for more anytime soon.Essentially, Rucka ends the series on a huge cliffhanger without any promise of resolution.The way Rucka ended this makes it seem less like a mini-series and more like a prologue to something greater.If that something greater comes sometime soon, you can come back and laugh at me and tell me I’m stupid, but meanwhile, we’re left with one great chapter in an incomplete book.It’s definitely worth reading that chapter, especially if you’re a fan of noir-style comics in a realistic setting, but be warned that the ending may not be as final as you’d like.
– Cal Cleary