Firstly, the format of the book is unique: It is a re-telling of the real life story of the Torso Killer, who terrorized Cleveland in the 1930's, and was labeled "America's first serial killer." The book includes real life photographs of crime scenes and newspaper headlines from the infamous case and is told fully in black-and-white.

Brian Michael Bendis (Ultimate Spiderman, Secret War, Age of Ultron) chose to focus the story on the police procedural and political aspects of the Torso Killer case. Fans of Fincher's ZODIAC film could find some enjoyment here, as I feel that there are many parallels between the two. Incidentally, Fincher was actually involved in potentially bringing Torso to the big screen in 2006 for Miramax. The project was eventually canceled.

Torso was released in 1999 to instant critical acclaim. Image comics was still riding high with the success of Spawn comics/HBO cartoon/feature film, so of course Todd McFarlane was prominent in his support of this graphic novel. He wasn't alone. Torso was nominated for an International Horror Guild award (whatever happened to IHG?) and won the 1999 Eisner award for comic book excellence.

So, my lukewarm feeling about this book seems to put me in the minority. I've read a lot of graphic novels, and one thing I've always enjoyed about them is that the story moves along FAST. I felt that Torso had many overly verbose passages. Now, I'm not fond of the true crime genre to begin with, so this probably accounts for some of my distaste of the book. My feeling for Torso is similar to my feeling about Danielewski's House of Leaves: The uniqueness of the book was greater than my ability to enjoy it. (and I also realize that I'm in the minority opinion about House of Leaves as well)

In conclusion, I think Torso is a well made true crime/graphic novel that just isn't for me.

2.5 stars

Review by Jason Cavallaro

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