It's Noirvember! Try these Noir-inspired Comics

Lisa Tate

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Yes, Noirvember is a thing. Since 2010, film noir fans have taken advantage of the month of November to push their favorite film genre. For me the "noir" style can include any old school detective stories and thrillers from the 1930s to 1950s that take on that darkly intense, big city style mystery, complete with femme fatales or smart talking private eyes.

If you want to read some comic and graphic novel series that carry the look and feel of the genres, from classic noir to mid-century pulp novels, I have a few recommendations:

Publisher © Image and Marvel

Marvel Noir

This series of Marvel stories, released in 2009 and 2010, includes tales from various authors of Matt Murdock's Daredevil in depression era Hell's Kitchen, to Punisher taking on a roaring 20s-era crime boss, as well as noir stories featuring Iron Man, Luke Cage and the X-Men. Yet, thanks to the popularity of the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse, and some excellent over-dramatic voice work by Nicholas Cage, Spider-Man Noir is the one most people know best. His entire collection is once again available in trade paperback.

Hawaiian Dick

This Eisner Award nominee written by B. Clay Moore with artist Steven Michael Griffin first ran in 2002, and takes place in 1950s Hawaii where detective Byrd is fighting the criminal underworld and supernatural weirdness in his home base of Honolulu. There were a some follow up series through 2006, and one as late as 2016 with a different creative team, but the original series nails the weird mid-century tiki time vibe. This was one of my favorites when it first came out, and I remember hearing about there being talks for a movie version of this series starring Johnny Knoxville as Byrd. Of course that never happened.

Dick Tracy

Chester Gould's tough and smart detective Dick Tracy made his comic strip debut way back in 1931, featuring everything that makes detective and noir great including over-exaggerated urban police stereotypes and grotesque gangsters and criminals. Gould wrote adventures for Tracy until the early 1970s and Tracy appeared in several comic book series over the years. Some of the new Dick Tracy adaptations by writers and artists like Michael Avon Oeming and Mike Allred are readily available, and feature some fun writing and fantastic art.

Publisher © DC, IDW and Dynamite

Batman: Gotham Noir

Okay, let's face it. Batman IS noir. The hero that emerged in Detective Comics has been lurking in the shadows for 80 years, and there are some great noir-style stories including The Long Halloween and Gotham by Gaslight. Yet, it was in the 2001 Elseworld's story Gotham Noir, by Ed Brubaker, that the Dark Knight got his most blatant noir style treatment. The story's narrator is James Gordon, who is a hard-drinking private detective framed for murder in this tale set in 1949. And Batman may be anything from figment of Gordon's imagination, to a real anti-hero. You decide.

The Shadow

From the late 1930s to the mid 1950s, the classic radio program The Shadow (aka Lamont Cranston, Ken Allard and many other secret identities) was a dark addictive mainstay to mystery fans, but he first made his appearance in a series of pulp novels by Walter B. Gibson, and has since been featured in every other media format available (including that horrible Alec Baldwin movie from the 1990s). There have been many, comic adaptations of The Shadow, and he has met up with fellow dark detective Batman, Grendel, and other heroes and villains. The recent Dynamite Comics series that featured talents like Garth Ennis and Matt Wagner show the character still has plenty of stories to tell.

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? You know the answer.

Next week: Noirvember continues with noir-style music videos!

Header Image: ©Dynamite Comics

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