PrivateEyeFCImage © Brian K. Vaughan & Marcos Martin.

I rarely read webcomics, even when they sound appealing. After sitting in front of a computer all day, it doesn’t appeal to me. This is one I heard many good things about, and is now in a large, handsome hardcover book from Image.

Brian K. Vaughan posits a future where everyone wears masks to protect their privacy, and privacy issues are front and center in society. Attempts to invade privacy are high on the list of crimes being pursued and harshly punished by the police and investigated by “reporters,” replacing the kinds of news common today. Despite that, some people still want information about other people and are willing to pay very well for it. The protagonist is a private eye doing that kind of work, and in a society much more concerned and watchful for violations of privacy, it’s a tough job. He has help from a few friends, and an employee of sorts who drives him around, but mostly he’s out there on his own taking big risks, and never knowing if the information he’s after is going to get him arrested or killed. It’s a great set-up, an excellent combination of science fiction, crime fiction and film noir. Artist Marcos Martin does a good job of making it work visually. And as the plot develops, the story swiftly becomes a tense, suspenseful thriller with plenty of action, violence and heartbreak.

The format of the strip, and the book, is wide-screen, 12 inches by 7 inches, and lots of material. Vaughan keeps you guessing as to where he’s going next, and the book is full of cool characters and clever ideas. Recommended.

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