Reading Pile: Lavender Jack
I really enjoyed Dan Schkade's work on the series San Hannibal, but I only just now stumbled on this webtoon series of his that's a good three seasons into its run. And while I appreciate it being free and how he works with the scrolling format of the webcomic, I do really hope it will be reformatted into print at some point because this is one of the most thoroughly engaging detective comics I've read in a long time.
Set in a sort of alternate history and somewhere in the early 1900's, the story takes place in the city of Gallery where the corrupt ruling class is now under attack by the cunning vigilante Lavender Jack. Jack's been actively preying on the rich and exposing their darkest secrets to the public eye, prompting key figures to lean on the Mayor to find a solution. The Mayor in turn requests the aid of the great detective Theresa Ferrier, which isn't a great move considering he's in on the corruption and Ferrier is exceedingly good at her job.
While Ferrier is working with the local constable who has been ordered to hinder her activities, we also follow Lavender Jack and his crusade against the city's corruption. I won't spoil who he is even though that's revealed pretty early on, but they give him a great set-up and watching his story unfold alongside Ferrier's case work is tons of fun.
There's a really rich supporting cast throughout, all given a decent amount of time to shine and develop. The pacing and scripting are top notch, and combined with Schkade's atmospheric art style it all comes together to create a great sense of tone. The city of Gallery and its residents are infused with a ton of character and all of these elements just really bring you into the mystery and plots as they unfold.
We also get a lot of POC and queer representation throughout, and in such a matter of fact way that it's incredibly refreshing. Central characters are represented as queer without it being a major plot point and simply just who they are.
There's also a strong focus on the female cast members throughout, and I absolutely love the character of Theresa Ferrier. She's one of the single best new detective characters I've had the pleasure to read in a long time. The mixture of her brilliance, her ability to kick ass, and the devotion she has to her wife are all elements that make her an instant favorite.
I can't really say enough good things about this series, so if you are in the mood for a nice deep dive into strongly realized world and a great cast then I fully recommend giving this a shot. It's entirely free as well, so even if webcomics aren't your jam you can at least sample it. Do yourself a favor and give it a try.