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Freak U.


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Top TenWriter/Artist: Frank Miller

Artists: Eddie Campbell

Publisher: America's Best Comics

Synopsis: An account of the Jack the Ripper murders, based on hard historical data and theories formulated in the 70s. William Withy Gull, crown physician, is called in by his fellow freemasons to cover up a nasty bit of blackmail being perpetrated by four prostitutes. Unfortunately, Gull has strange ideas and delusions of grandeur, ultimately resulting in the famous Ripper murders.

How Is It?: Possibly stands alongside "Watchmen" as a work of comics greatness; hard going at times, and the art doesn't exactly dazzle, but it's highly educational. Or not--I've heard a number of Ripper afficionadoes dis it for its embracing of the Gull hypothesis (and that's NOT a spoiler, dammit--forget the stupid Johnny Depp movie). Your reaction to the art may vary: it's done in a heavily inked, scribbly black & white style that reflects the ugly and violent world of the Victorian slums. And they WERE ugly and violent, a point Moore makes through meticulously researched detail and a dash of speculation. I liked the early stuff, with Gull waxing eloquent about Masonic lore and London architecture as he planned the murders, rather better than the metaphysical stuff (it's suggested that Gull can see the future) that overtakes it at the end, but there's no question it's evocative and compelling. Also watch for a cavalcade of cameos and references to Victorian-era characters like John Merrick and Buffalo Bill.

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