• Peepland (Trade Paperback)

    Peepland (Trade Paperback)
    Released by: Titan Comics
    Released on: June 28th, 2017.
    Written by: Christa Faust, Gary Philips
    Illustrated by: Andrea Camerini
    Purchase From Amazon

    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...

    This second issue starts off in the back of a limo. Two men hold a woman back and watch as a third man snorts a line of blow off of a prostitute’s breasts. He tells her they’re going to play a game, to see how long she can hold her breath. The prostitute protests and gets smacked for speaking up. The girl that was being held is kicked out of the car as it slows down in Times Square and the man who did the blow? He strangles the hooker to death.

    Roxy and Nick see all of this happen on the tape. They rewind it to get a better look at the killer… and the VCR chews it up. Nick gets the tape out but isn’t sure he can fix it so they talk to Roxy’s neighbor, Snyder. They lie to him about what’s on the tape. He agrees to fix it for a fee, and Roxy agrees to shoot some ads for him free of charge. Snyder appears to have his fingers in a few different pies, he’s got a whole lot of video editing gear setup in his apartment.

    Meanwhile Ray and Benny, the two thugs from the first issue, have to tell their boss, a paunchy real estate developer with bad hair named Simon Went, that they’ve come up empty. They don’t have the tape he wants. He sends them back out into the city to make it right. In another part of town, the cops are looking for a black kid named Lorenzo Nichols. They find him, rough him up, and accuse him of being involved in the Central Park murder of a white woman. He doesn’t know what they’re talking about he tells them, but this doesn’t stop the cops from throwing him in the back of a cruiser and hauling him in. Turns out Lorenzo is the son of Aiesha, one of the girl from the peepshow where Roxy works. The cops interrogate him, an NYPD beat cop placed them at the scene of the crime, but again, Lorenzo says he’s innocent. Aiesha shows up at the station and says that the talk is over until they get a lawyer.

    Aisha wanders into work at Peepland, one of her co-workers tells her that she might be able to come up with proof that Lorenzo didn’t kill the girl that the cops are accusing him of murdering, that is if ‘Snyder can fix it.’ Aisha appreciates the thought, but she’s there to work, she needs to make some money.

    Meanwhile, a woman named Sherry Lindstrom hops a cab to the police station where she tells the officer on duty at the front desk that she needs to talk to someone about the Central Park murder – the one that Lorenzo is being accused of. Detective Alvarez sits down with her. Turns out Sherry was in town for the holidays. Dick approached her in the park with his camcorder and talked her into having some fun on camera. She saw what happened, she knows it was a white boy that did it – and while Dick got spotted (and then thrown under a subway), she didn’t. Alvarez takes her statement down on tape.

    Meanwhile, Snyder’s blackmail scheme isn’t going so well. The thugs drop off the cash but then follow him and beat the shit out of him – they want the original tape, the one that Dick died for. Nearby, at a flophouse in Spanish Harlem, a pimp auditions a junkie girl as a dancer. The audition is interrupted when masked men brandishing shotguns show up. They pistol whip him, pull the stove out from the wall in the kitchen and swipe his stash of cash. It’s A.J., Jimmy and their brother and the heist goes south quickly but at least they get the cash and get it to Aisha.

    That same night, Roxy heads to CBGB to see Nick play with his band. She runs into Kat, a girl she and Nick had a three-way with once, who Roxy had a lesbian relationship with. Roxy’s there for one reason though – to ask Nick if he’s seen Snyder. After all, the guy never leaves his apartment. When she went over, he wasn’t there so she knows something is up. And of course, they’re right.

    Nick and Roxy walk through St. Mark’s talking to each other about what to do. So far they can’t identify the killer on the tape and they don’t know if Snyder talked or not before he was killed. If they can figure out who the killer in the tape is, they can blow this wide open and the cops won’t be able to pin it on Aisha’s son Lorenzo. They figure Snyder being as paranoid as he was would probably have made a backup copy of the tape. They start asking around, but come up empty. Meanwhile Lorenzo gets harassed by some construction workers who recognize him from the newspaper. When Nick and Roxy get home they find a postcard that Snyder left in their mailbox. He left a copy of the tape with Rudy Goldfarb.

    Sherry Lindstrom puts in a call to Detective Alvarez. She hasn’t heard from the D.A. yet and she’s getting nervous. He tells her she can’t talk to anyone but him, the info she has about the case is too sensitive, and that she should stay put and wait for his call. His partner, March, asks him what he’s up to. When he explains it to her, she tells him he’s on his own. Once he splits she makes a call to someone.

    Meanwhile, Rudy Goldfarb is hosting his raunchy cable access show, but when Roxy walks in he puts it on hold for a few minutes to talk to her. At first he denies he’s got the tape but when Roxy pushes him, he cops to it. He also knows who the killer on the video is – Rob Went, wealthy real estate tycoon’s Simon Went’s kid. He gives Roxy the tape and tells her that if she’s smart she’ll get rid of it. Roxy knows a guy who works at the local TV news station who agrees to get the tape on the air, but when she overhears him make a call to see if the ‘bounty Went put out on the street’ is still good, she beats him with a mic stand and takes the tape back. The guy on the other end of the phone hangs on just enough to hear Roxy’s contact use her name. That’s not good. But at least now Roxy and Nick know that there’s bounty out on them.

    And then Alvarez decides to play his hand.

    New Year’s Eve. March makes the call – “It’s handled” she tells the person on the other end of the phone. The two corpses in the back of the car currently sinking to the bottom of a lake would back that up. Her next mission? Get Roxy. They know she lives with her Uncle Leo, so that’s a start. Elsewhere, Aisha tells Lorenzo she will love him no matter what. He interprets this as his own mother wondering if he really did kill the girl that the cops accused him of killing. He splits the scene, understandably angry and upset over this.

    Meanwhile, Roxy and Nick head to the Village to see Betty Bangs – they need to give her the tape. They’re both unaware that March is using her badge not too far away in Times Square to inquire as to where she might be. Lorenzo gets into a scrap with a drunken racist fool. It doesn’t end well. March follows Roxy’s trail to the Meatpacking District, getting closer and closer. Leo, on the other hand, gets a surprise visit that forces him to defend himself in a rather unexpected way (unless you’ve seen Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bleeder), while Roxy and Nick watch from outside, through the window.

    The newspaper picks up on the story, Nick and Roxy get chased through the streets by a gun toting maniac and plans are made by certain parties to avenge Lorenzo.

    This does NOT end the way that you expect it to. We won’t spoil it here but it’s clear that Faust and Philips (read our recent interview with them here) don’t necessarily subscribe to the ‘happy endings are mandatory’ style of writing. This series was gritty and bleak from the start but this fifth issue ups the ante considerably in how it brings most, if not all, of the story threads to a well written and ridiculously tense conclusion. It’s good stuff, it makes you think and it makes you feel for the characters involved in all of this – who got what they deserved, who didn’t deserve what they got and everything in between. Andrea Camerini’s artwork, colored by Marco Lesko, continues to suit the writing really nicely. The detail here is good, not just in how the human characters are illustrated but in how the city is drawn as well. It’s easy to appreciate the obvious effort that went into getting things right in this regard, even quieter moments like the scene with Aisha and Lorenzo in the kitchen, there’s a lot of work put into setting the right mood and making the backdrop for the drama look real.

    Peeland ends with a BANG! and not a wimper (it also ends with a William S. Burroughs quote), but here’s hoping this isn’t our last visit to Faust and Philips’s world. There are a lot of interesting characters here that can and should be explored. If there’s any justice in the world, that’ll happen sooner rather than later.

    This trade paperback edition not only collects all five issues of the limited series but also includes the different text pages that accompanied each one of the individual issues as well as a cover gallery.