Vertigo’s latest, The Kitchen, proved to be a surprise hit for me last month. I originally found out about it through series co-creator Ming Doyle and then discovered that another favourite artist, Jordie Bellaire, was on the credits as well, so going in, I had some high expectations and they were most decidedly met. The story of three women, wives of jailed mobsters, The Kitchen is quite a moving story about women who want respect in the world, who work for that respect with all they go, and who are not going down without a fight.
This past week’s The Kitchen #2 is all about Ollie Masters and Ming picking up from where things left off the last time, with the three women putting another mobster in a coma by beating the hell out of him for interfering on their turf. Or rather, what used to be their husbands’ turf. In the new issue, the writers also show the women having some doubts about what they’ve been doing, which is good to have at this point in time. The writing is just as good as it was on the first issue, and the same goes for the art as well, all the way!
Last issue, the three sisters took up their husbands’ jobs by collecting all the protection money in the area, and then beat the hell out of another mobster who threatened them. Now, they are looking to expand their “business” by becoming pimps and even have to confront someone who is out to blackmail them for what they did since nobody knows that it was Kath, Raven and Angie who beat up Franky and put him in a permanent coma.
Ollie Masters tells a pretty rousing story this time as the world of these women is expanded on for the readers. We learn something about their history, particularly in relation to their father, and we also learn that while they are dallying with the idea of doing some pimp-business on the side, they are also not committed to the idea at all because of the association that has with their sour memories of their father. And in the midst of it all, we see them get blackmailed by a random sleazer who overheard them talking about putting some guy in a coma and puts two and two together. That’s what drives most of the issue this time, and it turns into this really compelling story of how far the sisters are willing to go to keep what’s theirs.
Of course, the blackmail isn’t the only twist in the story since we also have one of their husbands’ associates coming back, recently released from prison. Lots and lots of complications are to be found in the pages of The Kitchen #2, and all of it is pretty good, moving the story forward bit by bit and keeping things really interesting.
The characterization is definitely much better this time around as we see more of the other two sisters, Raven and Angie, rather than Kath who was the focus the last time around, and who does get some good scenes this time, but is not as much of a star though. Each sister brings something different to their… business arrangement and it is quite fun to see the whole thing from three different perspectives, which creates a very interesting larger picture in the end.
And given how the issue ends, I’m expecting some more upheaval in the lives of the three women as the quality of challenges facing them steps up in a big, unlooked-for way. But I think that they are definitely up for it since they’ve shown themselves to be pretty committed so far.
Ming is the artist here, with Jordie on colours, Clem Robins on letters, and Becky Cloonan on the cover, as before. There isn’t really that much of an improvement in the art this time around, but that’s fine since the art in the first issue was damn good anyway. It is nice to see such consistency since it more than helps give stability to a title, it also is meant to keep the reader fully interested in the product as well. And the whole noir-vibe is definitely ever-present, which was just to my liking as well.
Quite unexpectedly so, this series is turning out to be some good fun indeed.
More The Kitchen: #1.