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From A Library – Gamekeeper: Tooth and Claw

Guy Ritchie’s Gamekeeper #1–5
Story by Guy Ritchie, script by Andy Diggle, art by Mukeshi Singh

Poor Virgin Comics. Grand plans, big names, glossy books – but did they ever stand a chance? I liked John Woo’s 7 Brothers (mostly because it was written by Garth Ennis), but I didn’t have any particular affinity for the rest of the line of comics – especially when they appear to be glorified film pitches that we are paying the privilege to read.

Which brings me to Gamekeeper. Despite my dislike of Revolver, I like the early films of Guy Ritchie. Also, Andy Diggle wrote The Losers, so he gets the trust required to read something he writes. Also, it’s from the library, so I didn’t have to pay for it … Guy Ritchie admits that he doesn’t care about comics (he says ‘I admire the likes of Frank Miller’s Sin City and Zach Snyder’s cinematic version of 300‘) and used the comic as a visual aid for an idiot executive in a pitch meeting. Fortunately, the book is enjoyable (and you can see it as a film …)

The story is straightforward and cinematic – on an isolated estate in Scotland, some professional soldiers attack and kill the owner for a piece of paper, and the only person who can do anything about it is the gamekeeper, an enigmatic and brooding Chechen called Brock. He saves the rest of the people on the estate and then travels to Amsterdam to ensure that there will be no more trouble. There are some excellent action set pieces for a director to sink his teeth into, the dialogue is minimal, the Macguffin simple and the hero gets to be heroic (as well as having a sympathetic back story, here told in black and white flashbacks; after all, he does kill a lot of people in this book). The ending is a little weak in comparison to the rest of the story, but it is a gripping and taut action thriller.

Diggle was the right choice for this – it’s very much in the same vein as The Losers – and he provides good narration and dialogue. I’ve never seen Mukesh Singh’s art before but he’s got a very moody and atmospheric art style, which looks equally good in colour and black and white, and a nice angular approach to his figure work. His composition and camera choices are very good and the action is captivating. Now, how will it look when it’s transferred to the big screen …?

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