Vertigo Comics recently launched the new limited series “The Kitchen,” set in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood during the late ‘70s. This tale of the wives of Irish gang leaders was created by writer Ollie Masters and artist Ming Doyle (“Quantum and Woody”). The eight issue mini-series also features colors by the Eisner Award winning Jordie Bellaire and covers by Becky Cloonan (“Gotham Academy”).
“The Kitchen” #1 sets up what looks to be the incredibly compelling story of Kath, Raven and Angie. The three women are the wives of the top members of an Irish gang who have just been sent up the river after the brutal beating of a man outside a local pub. For the first time, all three bosses have been sent to prison at the same time and the women are forced to fend for themselves. Rather than struggle to get by until their husbands are back on the streets, Kath rallies Raven and Angie to pick up collecting for their husbands’ protection racket.
Masters and Doyle aptly pace the issue, fleshing out the necessary areas to introduce the major characters and their world before having it crash down around them. What? You didn’t think things were going to go smoothly, did you? Each of the women has a noticeably distinct personality by the end of the issue. Despite the hot headed Kath being the catalyst for bringing these women into this life of crime, subtle moments suggest that the more rational Raven will emerge as the leader of the trio and, possibly, the overall gang, as a result. Angie’s development rests predominately on the shoulders of Doyle, as the character has only a few short lines so far, but is clearly sheepish in disposition thanks to Doyle’s imagery.
Doyle, with Bellaire, also captured the setting of the story skillfully. Hell’s Kitchen is recognizably not an affluent New York City neighborhood, by any means. Everything in the book is reflective of the era, from the hairstyles of both the men and women, to the cars, to the clothing and, most definitely, even the wallpaper. These reverse Charlie’s Angels all have sex appeal without being overly sexualized caricatures in Doyle’s interiors, as well as Cloonan’s cover. The only area in which Doyle’s art could be said to be lacking is that some images appear static, due, in part, to the fact that she does not use lines to depict motion.
In addition to the full length story, Masters and Doyle each have a section of “bonus material,” where they break down the creation and execution of the series. It should also be noted that “The Kitchen” is suggested for mature readers for, so far, language and violence.
Gentlemen, if there was ever a book to get your girlfriend into comics, this is it. “The Kitchen” stars beautifully bad women in roles traditionally dominated by men with a story that will leave you wanting more. “The Kitchen” #1, also with a variant cover by Ming Doyle, is available now in print at comic book retailers, as well as digitally.