torso cover trade paperback tpb
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10

Fascinating story of an unsolved serial killer


Comic Info

Comic Name: Torso

Publisher: Image Comics

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Marc Andreyko

Artist: Brian Michael Bendis

# of Issues: 6

Release Date: 2000

jinx torso #1 cover review

Jinx: Torso #1

Reprints Jinx:  Torso #1-6 (October 1998-September 1999).  Famed lawman Eliot Ness takes a job in Cleveland and vows to root out the corruption and bring the city back.  Unfortunately for Ness, someone else has started patrolling the city in the form of a killer who is capturing and dismembering multiple victims.  With detectives Walter Myrlo and Sam Simon on the case, the Cleveland police find themselves with few leads and an increasing amount of bodies.  The killer is getting bolder and more frequent, and the public is demanding action!

Written and illustrated by Brian Michael Bendis (with Marc Andreyko as a co-creator), Torso is a true-crime fictitious account of the Cleveland Torso Killer whose attributed crimes spanned from September 23, 1935 to August 16, 1938 with twelve to twenty victims.  The comic was created as a spin-off title of Bendis’s series Jinx and was initially published by Image but later reprinted by Marvel.  The series won an Eisner Award for Comic Book Excellence, Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition and nominated for multiple Eagle Awards.  Plans to develop a film from Torso fell through, and the series of events was chronicled in Bendis’s original graphic novel Fortune and Glory.

Looking at Torso, it is amazing.  Not because it is just a solid work, but because it reminds me how good Bendis can be if he is in his element.  I’ve been hard on Bendis since he took over New Avengers and in many ways disinterested me in comics that I have read for years, but Bendis earlier work (along with some of his early Marvel work) is top notch…and Torso might be one of the strongest entries.

jinx torso #4 cover review

Jinx: Torso #4

The series is a blend of reality and fiction.  People like Eliot Ness (obviously) and others were real investigators in the case.  Events like the torching of the shantytown and postcards from Dr. Francis E. Sweeney (the cousin of Representative Martin L. Sweeney) were received by Ness for years after the investigation closed with no results.  The discovery of bodies and the locations and times of a lot of the comic book are corroborated…then it is blended with fiction for a bit of a resolution.

The comic demonstrates a lot of Bendis’s style of storytelling with talking heads and police investigations that he also used in Powers and other series.  For this series it does work and it does help show the monotony of a police investigation…It is a lot of work, running back and forth, and telephone calls (of course all done before the convenience of cellphones and the luxury of a lot of modern forensics).  No answer to the killer would have been a letdown after six issues.  Bendis finds a happy medium by providing an “answer” while still leaving the case unsolved.

While Torso is a great comic, I will say that it didn’t evolve in a vacuum.  If From Hell had not been published by Alan Moore, I do not think that Torso would exist.  They are two very different comics, but they have a similar feel and style to the storytelling.  Likewise, Bendis’ attempt to get Torso made into a film were with David Fincher whose 2007 film Zodiac has a very similar way of dealing with an unsolved crime.  Torso is an original though, and it does deserve a wider audience.  I can see with Netflix and other true-crime series gaining in popularity that Torso could finally get its shot at the screen…and it feels like it is made for it.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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