The Kitchen has reached the midpoint of its eight-issue run, and from here you might get a sense of which direction things are heading in for Kath, Raven, and Angie --- mob wives turned mob bosses in the Hell's Kitchen area of New York in the late 1970s. In the fourth issue of writer Ollie Masters and artists Ming Doyle and Jordie Bellaire's crime drama, the husbands got out of prison --- and as you might imagine, the reunions weren't entirely happy ones. In issue #5, the men are ready to reassert themselves, but the women aren't going to just fade into the background.
The series is building to a fascinating confrontation in its really rather... unorthodox examination of women's changing roles in the workforce in the latter half of the 20th century. This is a comic that takes a serious and mature approach to storytelling, and it's easy to imagine that it won't end well for anyone, and it certainly can't end well for everyone.
Most comics tend to have a high-concept fueling them; some twist which reveals the characters live in a heightened world where readers can’t predict what will happen next. The rules keep changing, and that’s how we define the characters we read. The cast of Fables could have anything happen to them in each issue – their capacity to endure the fantastical is one of their central traits. By contrast, the first issue of Vertigo's new eight-part miniseries The Kitchen is set in a totally real, unfiltered world, where the characters and setting feel authentic and full. The central trait of this series is that is starts from such a relatively unremarkable premise and does so much with it.
From Ollie Masters, Ming Doyle, and Jordie Bellaire, The Kitchen surprises from the concept on. This is kitchen-sink drama, the type Michael Gambon and Julie Walters might’ve appeared in twenty years ago, but with an updated, contemporary sense of space and character. Rather than the typical angry young man, here we have three very angry women. Set in the wilds of Hell’s Kitchen in the 1970s, the ice in their hearts and fire in their fists promises that something's eventually going to crack.
Comics fans are likely to at least have some familiarity with New York City's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood as a setting for crime stories -- the area provides a location for many of Marvel's Daredevil comics. In reality, the area has been substantially gentrified since the early 1990s -- and Daredevil doesn't really live there.
That's why artist Ming Doyle (Mara) and writer and comics newcomer Ollie Masters are taking things back to the 1970s for their eight-issue Vertigo Comics series The Kitchen, when the neighborhood was still under-developed and plagued by crime. The series follows the lives of three mob wives whose husbands get shipped off to prison, leaving them to take up the family business. Check out covers, preview art, and a video interview with editor Will Dennis.
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