Paradox Press’ Road to Perdition, set in Depression-era Chicago is the story of revenge. Chicago, under Capone, is kept under tight leash by an army of strong armed enforcers, who ensure that the mob reigns supreme quashing any sign of dissent and revolt. Road to Perdition is the story of Michael O Sullivan, an honest but ruthless enforcer, whose wife and son are murdered by one of the crime boss’ son. With his surviving son, Michael Jr, O’ Sullivan now takes on the mob to avenge the murders.
Loosely based on the Japanese manga Lone Wolf and Cub, it is a simple revenge story. But what lets this OGN (Original Graphic Novel) shine are the moments of characterization that the writer Max Collins brings in. O’Sullivan knows that what he is doing is evil but he also wants a good life for his son. While he acknowledges the fact that he has to use his son in his war, he tries to see that Michael Jr. does not enjoy what he does. Plus he feels remorse for every person he kills.
But the real star is the artist Richard Rayner. It apparently took him 4 years to do the art and it is not surprising that the art is of the highest quality. Black and White pencil sketches frame Chicago of the 1930s lending it a bleak quality of no hope. It should also be said that Rayner has been given a big canvas to work on as most of the scenes involve brutal action and intense gun fights with no or minimal dialogue and it falls upon Raynor to let the story flow. However, its in the quiet moments where Raynor really shines. The moment after Michael Jr kills his first victim. This scene is conveyed without any dialogue and Raynor has conveyed the varying emotions on both father and son beautifully and powerfully.
The action is hard and brutal and intense. There are few moments of sanity before everything hits the fan. Another facet of Road to Perdition that is captivating is the presence of Capone and how O’Sullivan plays a hard game in order to force Capone’s hand. A very solid read and quite riveting, Road to Perdition is definitely a graphic novel that one should read (in only to drool at the art work)
PS: Road to Perdition was made into a movie starring Tom Hanks, Paul Newman and Jude Law and as in all cases, the movie (while being good) could not reach up to the level of the novel, suffering from quite a few changes for the big screen. But the point to be noted here is, it is not just the superhero comics that get translated to the big screen but also other good works (Another example being A History of Violence)