Writer Fred Van Lente somehow remains underrated despite putting out one the best comedy comics (Archer & Armstrong), one of the best SciFi comics (Ivar, Timewalker), and one of the best mini-series (Taskmaster: Unthinkable) of the last decade, but it seems as though he'll be getting some well-deserved notoriety from his upcoming Dark Horse series Weird Detective - this book was fantastic.
He touted the premise as mash-up of HP Lovecraft and Law & Order (the man has a true gift for selling a pitch), and the story unfolds as just that: we're introduced to Detective Sebastian Greene, who has been a case-solving machine for the Minor Crimes unit for the last two months. Unbeknownst to the rest of the NYPD precinct (who thinks his quirks are a byproduct of being Canadian), Greene is in fact a Lovecraftian creature who has inhabited the body of a mediocre policeman (with Greene's presence stuck in its grotesque body in a separate dimension).
One of the strengths of this book is the incredible descriptions of Greene's seventeen senses - perks of being derived from the Great Race. The scientific aspects are detailed and well-defined, and Greene's matter-of-fact explanations of how wonderful the Great Race really are subtle and full of longing - this character comes from a race that is beyond intimate, in a way that humans' brains simply can't grasp. It's haunting, really, how Greene describes what it's like to be in this world surrounded by people that repulse him.
Another strength is the absolute majesty of Guiu Vilanova's artwork. This man somehow can capture the impressively timed comedic beats of Van Lente's script, as well as the terrifying scenes of otherworldly-destroyed bodies that make up the mystery/horror aspect of the book. He captures Greene's facial expressions expertly, as they vacillate between different forms of indifference (you'd be surprised how many there are thanks to Vilanova). It's thanks to Vilanova and expert colorists Joasan Gonzalez and Mauricio Wallace that this book flows as tightly as it does; Van Lente is a writer whose staccato rhythm requires an artist with enough talent to keep up, and these guys are certainly up to the task.
As for the narrative itself, it's quite compelling. Greene and his partner Sana Fayez (who was foisted upon him by the Chief of Detectives) have to solve the case of a woman who was killed from a lofty fall, and her boyfriend who disappeared mysteriously. The woman just so happened to be the daughter of a powerful crime boss, and the boyfriend was literally swallowed by a toilet - the scene depicting that action was QUITE vivid. Thankfully Van Lente's humor also plays a huge part in the story, from the perception of Greene by the NYPD to Greene's dealing with his cat.
This book presents a tremendous opportunity to hop onto something really special before it takes off, and to ignore it is to deny yourself a truly unique piece of art. Van Lente is one of the best in the biz, and Vilanova and crew will soon join those ranks.