By d. emerson eddy — I can say unequivocally that Hot Lunch Special is not only one of the best crime comics of 2018/2019, it's also one of the best comics of the same time…period. I'd argue even further beyond that that it's quite possibly one of the best things that I've read this decade. All in a tidy little family crime drama from Eliot Rahal, Jorge Fornés, and Taylor Esposito.
There are the obvious comparisons to Fargo (or really any Coen Brothers movie) in its offbeat approach to storytelling and crime, taking an angle through the food service industry as a front for the illicit business. Yet the crime procedural aspect wasn't really at the forefront, it was more about the family, the Khourys, trying to get revenge for the murder of their youngest in an intimidation attempt gone wrong. It was about the family trying to deal with the loss of someone they held dear as they try to put the pieces back together of a fractured, strained relationship between the siblings and their father.
This final issue launches the ultimate plan for the Khourys revenge on Big Jim Moran for killing Ben. And it's pretty simple, but that simplicity is part of what makes it work. A simple plan, a simple plot, but from it it allows Eliot Rahal to focus still on the characters, making them interesting and unique, even new ones like Pat, all while building them up through dialogue. Then prime the detonator.
That detonator being a part of the plot, but also coming through Jorge Fornés, whose artwork for this series has been incendiary. Fornés has a style that's not dissimilar to David Mazzucchelli with a hint of Steve Lieber, wonderful use of shadow amid a simple thin lined approach, and it works incredibly well for crime comics. Add to that some inventive use of page layouts and panel compositions in ways that can really only be done in comics and it results in a story that also celebrates what you can do in the medium.
Since dialogue is often a very important part of crime drama and family drama, there is a lot of it in this story. It never feels forced or wordy, but it does mean that Taylor Esposito has a gargantuan task ahead of him to make it flow and not feel cramped or overly imposing on each page with his lettering. Working well with Fornés to ensure that the words and pictures aren't competing.
Overall, this has been a wonderful series. It's been an entertaining, offbeat story with some interesting characters and a family that you want to see succeed, even with their shortcomings and hang-ups. Rahal, Fornés, and Esposito wove a good yarn here and I hope that the hint of something more at the end of this story comes true.
Hot Lunch Special #5
Writer: Eliot Rahal
Artist: Jorge Fornés
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
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d. emerson eddy is a student and writer of things. He fell in love with comics during Moore, Bissette, & Totleben's run on Swamp Thing and it has been a torrid affair ever since. His madness typically manifests itself on Twitter @93418.