Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Story Title: N/A
Written by: Jeff Amano
Penciled and Inked by: Craig Rousseau
Colored by: Giulia Brusco
Lettered by: Omar Mediano
Managing Editor: Gabriel Benson
Publisher: Beckett Comics
Every time I pick up a new title from Beckett Comics, I am pleasantly surprised. The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty‘s western/fairy tale mix grabbed me immediately. Fade From Grace, with its hybrid superhero/love story, was poignant, thought provoking and escapist entertainment at the same time. Now we come to Ruule, which is the third Beckett title that I have had the pleasure to read. I got my hands on the first three issues of Ruule Vol. 2: Kiss & Tell (as well as the complete 5-issue first volume Ruule: Ganglords of Chinatown) during my recent trip to the Wizard World Chicago. Much like Fade and Ballad, Ruule took me completely off guard.
So, you may want to know: what Ruule is about? I’ll leave it to Beckett’s Managing Editor, Gabriel Benson, as taken from the recent interview I conducted, to give you the succinct hook.
“Ruule is an imprint that takes stories from The Bible and re-tells them in different genres. While the environments are different – the stories, themes and characters, and even the level of violence, are very faithful to the source material.”
The first Ruule miniseries, Ganglords of Chinatown, set the story of Gideon against the backdrop of dueling street gangs. Kiss & Tell retells Samson & Delilah as a gangster tale with heavy doses of noir. Without getting into deep religious talk, The Bible offers some outstanding stories and elements. Taking them into a new, modern context offers a fantastic opportunity to convert some of the greatest stories ever told into comic form. Yet there’s no guilt! You can look at these as “Elseworlds” or “What If?” stories inspired by The Bible. Don’t be scared of the idea that these stories are influenced by The Bible. There’s no preaching or any overt religious message. We’re talking about great stories remade into great comic stories.
The first three issues of Ruule vol. 2: Kiss & Tell hit on the main beats of the famous story of Samson & Delilah. We met Sam Swede (Samson) and Phyllis his doomed lover. Dahlia (Delilah) the squeeze of crime lord Don Daggoni, has been waiting in the wings to exert herself in the main story. Much like the original story, Swede, although the protagonist is not the type of character that I felt a great deal of empathy for. He’s a womanizer, prideful, and worried about his own interests. Swede isn’t a particularly likable character, and the noir setting offers a wonderful alternate view of “Samson.” In the best noir stories you don’t like any of the characters wholly. It’s a regular conceit of the genre and one that works very well in Kiss & Tell.
Last month, Don Daggoni put an end to Phyllis and her father (a subordinate). Phyllis had helped to set the Swede up, but in the end he loved her and forgave her misdeed. As issue #3 closed out, Sam broke away from police custody and tore a man’s arm off and beat him to death with it. This echoes the original source material in which Samson used the jawbone of an ass to “smite” his enemies.
As we pick up this month, Swede visits Don Daggoni with the arm in tow. He’s badly hurt by a group of cops on Daggoni’s payroll. That’s when Dahlia lends a helping hand and takes the Swede to his friends The Kid and Chandy. As the Swede recuperates outside of the city he, of course, falls for the wrong girl”¦again. The “Samson & Delilah” connection is in full swing. Anyone familiar with the original story will know where this story is heading.
Whether you are familiar with Samson & Delilah, Ruule: vol.2 has been a fun romp through a seamy, world of gangsters, and desperate men. Noir is a style that’s attempted in more-mundane superhero fair, quite often. Ruule‘s something entirely different. The book stands out because it borrows freely from great noir thrillers of the past, adds in a modern storytelling sense, and puts it altogether in comic form. Movies are remade all the time. Taking great stories from The Bible is an even better idea.
Craig Rousseau’s artwork captures the mixed-genre story that Jeff Amano has scripted perfectly. I’ve enjoyed Rousseau’s work since his time on Impulse, and it’s absolutely wonderful to see him with a chance to do something so different. His somewhat-cartoony style meshes perfectly with the noir aspects and gives the world that larger-than-life feel that is essential.
The biggest knock I could ever make against comic fans is that they are too set in their ways. In the past I’ve been guilty of focusing too much attention on superheroes. I still love my superhero comics, but I’m looking for something a bit different from everything else on the racks. Ruule‘s one of those books!