• Peepland #1

    Peepland #1
    Released by: Titan Comics
    Released on: October 12th, 2016.
    Written by: Christa Faust, Gary Philips
    Illustrated by: Andrea Camerini
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    The first issue of Peepland opens up in a Times Square peepshow on Christmas Eve in 1986. A somewhat reserved, middle aged blond man is on one side of the window and on the opposite side a pretty dark haired girl. She knows it's his first time, and explains how it works. He keeps feeding tokens into the slot, she'll stay nude, but if he wants something more, he'll need to hand over some cash.

    Outside a man with a video camera runs through the streets. He trips and falls over a transient who recognizes him and refers to him as Dirty Dick. The man in the booth leaves and heads out into the street, Dick, holding a VHS tape close to his chest, runs into the peepshow and hides in that same booth. He hides the tape under the bench and tells the girl, Roxy, that she doesn't know anything about this and he'll be back later. Dick heads back out into the street, the two men who were chasing him spot him and run him down into the subway where they catch up with him. They scramble and he winds up falling in front of an oncoming train. Oops. The men get out of there as fast as they can, no one bothers to go after them.

    A girl named AJ, who seems to have a crush on one of the strippers, leaves the place to meet up with her brothers. They knock over a pawn shop, while Roxy pulls the tape out from under the bench where the late, great Dirty Dick stashed it. She gives it to the stripper AJ was sweet on, Aiesha, to hold on to until the shift is over. Good timing, cause shortly after two cops, Detectives March and Alvarez, show up. They want to know what happened with Dick and one of the girls rats out on Roxy... Roxanne Bell. They bring her in for questioning but she's not talking, while those two thugs who were after him try to find out where Dick lived. Roxy splits the cop shop, meets up with Aiesha to get the tape, and then heads over to her Uncle Leo's place. He's sick, but they've got a good relationship and he tells her to get rid of the tape. She doesn't listen and instead goes to see guy named Nick, obviously an ex-boyfriend in a grungy old theater. They go back to his place and watch the tape...

    The big reveal here is, of course, what's on the tape and honestly, it's not really all that surprising once we find out what it is. Getting there is a lot of fun though. Mid-eighties Times Square is a pretty cool setting for a crime comic, and Faut and Philips have done a nice job rounding up an interesting cast of characters to round out the story. Roxy's likable enough, a scrappy, pretty little punk stripper, so it makes sense that, so far at least, the story revolves around here but the background characters are cool too. The seedy peepshow where all of this unfolds is a great setting, and when the action heads out into the streets and into the rundown theaters and tenement buildings, the story never loses momentum.

    Andrea Camerini's artwork is solid. There's clearly been some research done here in terms of getting some of the architecture and marquees from the era right. Look for some neat one sheets on display in the background – I Spit On Your Grave and Kill Baby Kill – there's all sorts of scuzzy detail present here. Marco Lesko's coloring is good too, getting the neon effect in the opening peep booth scene just right. All in all, a great first issue, one that ensures we'll come back for the next one to see where all of this is headed!