Book Review - 'Torso'

Wednesday, June 5, 2002

By Brian Michael Bendis & Marc Andreyko

Reviewed by Justin Colburn & Keayn Dunya

In 1987 Brian De Palma directed Kevin Costner, Robert DeNiro and Sean Connery in the Untouchables. The movie centers around Elliot Ness and his group of "Untouchables" as they work together in a corrupt city to bring mobster Al Capone to justice. Even though the movie ended there, Ness' amazing career didn't. From Chicago he went to Cleveland and stumbled into a case involving America's first serial murderer, the Torso Killer.

After bringing Chicago mobster Al Capone to justice, Elliot Ness accepted the position of Cleveland City Safety Inspector. While Ness dealt with bootlegging and corrupt cops, detectives Walter Myrlo and Sam Simon were investigating headless torsos found in the Kingsbury run area. As time passed Ness was drawn into the case and attention was drawn from people all over the world as they tried to track down America's first serial killer. Using surgical precision the killer decapitated and dismembered his victims, disfiguring most of them beyond the point of identification leaving the detectives clueless as to how to track him down. With no distinguishable murder pattern and no solid clues Myrlo and Simon frantically followed every lead, in a desperate attempt to stop the ever-growing body count.

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I bought Torso about a year ago and immediately added it to the "to read" pile that has accumulated over the years. It's always been high on my priority list, but I was never able to find the time to read it until last night. I sat down cracked it open and was half way through it before I became aware of my surroundings again. I'm a big fan of fluidity in writing, it's something I always look for and Torso definitely has it. The story moves along so smoothly you don't even realize you're reading it. From the moment you open Torso Bendis and Andreyko bombard you with imagery by layering photos and newspaper clippings from the Torso murders with their own word balloons and artwork. Mix that with Bendis' mastery of dialogue and you'll see why it was nominated for three awards and won an Eisner for Comic Book Excellence.


I found out the hard way that Torso is a compelling read. A couple of late night reading and I couldn't put it down. Apart from being about the first serial killer, it has other elements within that keep you going. It's not just one story but several layered and intermingled with each other. not only does it make you think but I came away wanting to know more and eventually reseaching the end of Elliot Ness's career. I am quickly becoming a fan of Micheal Bendis and this is just another reason to research his work and see what other good stuff he has done.

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