Second Chances: Why the Noir Genre Still Works

Image Comics presents a new noir tale. in the form of Second Chances

Crafting a noir story can be tricky. There are plenty of tropes inherent to the genre, but if relied on too heavily, there isn’t room for anything new. That is certainly not the case for Second Chances, the four-issue story from Ricky Mammone, Max Bertolini, and DC Hopkins. Classic noir and neo-noir mix with science fiction influences to create something wholly unique in the genre. Rotary phones, dogecoin, and mecha fighting suits are all present here, and it’s kind of a miracle that it doesn’t break the world.

Image: Ricky Mammone, Max Bertolini, DC Hopkins/Second Chances, Image Comics
Image: Ricky Mammone, Max Bertolini, DC Hopkins/Second Chances, Image Comics

The story revolves around LeBlanc, a former CIA operative that can help you start a new life and get a second chance. His usual clients are only ones he deems worthy, but of course, the job he starts here is not the usual sort. The murder of his client leads him to that man’s daughter, who, under a hallucinogenic cocktail, has done something horrifying. And since any noir needs a great femme fatale, LeBlanc’s assassin ex-flame, Miss Nobody, is involved. Action, betrayal, and a deep look into our hero’s past are just some of what follows in the series.

Taking influence from the classic noir films of the post-World War II era, the art is drawn in black and white, with tones and shading used to add dimension to each scene. The starkness is right at home with the pulp sensibilities of the story, and the character work is done with great detail. LeBlanc’s white suit, Hawaiian shirt, and long hair tell you so much about how he is presenting himself. Similarly, Miss Nobody’s tattoos, black leather, and easy smile show the confidence of a character who always knows she’ll come out on top. 

Image: Ricky Mammone, Max Bertolini, DC Hopkins/Second Chances, Image Comics
Image: Ricky Mammone, Max Bertolini, DC Hopkins/Second Chances, Image Comics

I read through this volume twice as a lot is going on in a relatively short amount of pages. I’d love if this had an extra two issues to give some space and develop other characters further. Yes, the two sisters in their metal samurai-looking suits being left unexplained do add some bonkers charm to the story, but a whole issue explaining what their whole deal is could have been great. But the miniseries does explore LeBlanc and Miss Nobody enough that their arcs feel satisfying, and where we are left at the end made me desperately want an ongoing series.

Noir has been a popular genre for decades and decades, and Second Chances proves there are still so many ways to honor and subvert this storytelling landscape. If you’re a fan of those old black and white films, pulpy crime novels, or genre-bending stories in general, you’ll find plenty to enjoy here.

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