Nothing stays buried, not even at Mount Everest
Story: Christopher Sebela
Art: Ibrahim Moustafa
Color Assists: Lesley Atlansky
What They Say:
Dug in at Camp 2, Zan Jensen has lied, killed and drugged her way to within 8,000 feet of Mount Everest’s summit. As desolate weather sweeps across the mountain and Zan readies herself to face her dream and the dead body of Sullivan Mars buried beneath it, she finds herself isolated, paranoid, sick and surrounded by Strange Agents playing a game all their own.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Zan Jensen is a former Olympic athlete and current American expatriate living in Katmandu where she and her partner Haskell Price guide tourists up the peaks of the Himalayas. However, that’s just their day job. In addition to playing tour guides to thrill-seekers, they are also grave robbers. They strip the bodies of unsuccessful climbers and charge exorbitant rates from friends and families for the return of the body. Unfortunately, the two discover the corpse of Sullivan Mars—lost for decades—and their find puts them in great danger from a global mystery safeguarded by some of the deadliest people alive.
This is the first issue I read of High Crimes, and I have to say, I’m hooked. While the basic conceit of the story is fairly standard the way it frames them is exciting and memorable. Zan Jensen is a fascinating character—a former Olympian, drug addict, and grave robber seemingly hell-bent on self-destruction. There’s nothing about her that should make her sympathetic, and yet I want her to succeed. Part of it is due to her honesty about herself, part of it is her determination to win, and part of it is that her antagonists are bigger bastards than she. That’s one of the keys to writing effective antiheroes: give them an enemy who is worse than they. While there’s nothing admirable about Zan, she stands a good head higher than the killers that mingle with the everyday mountain climbers in Base Camp 2 like wolves among the sheep.
In addition to that, setting this story on Mount Everest is a brilliant choice. It elevates her grave robbing to an act that’s slightly less gruesome and actually adventurous in a rather morbid way. It also isolates her and adds a whole other level of conflict to her story. Facing agents of a shadowy government agency is bad enough, but she’s doing so in an environment that could kill her just as easily.
The writing and the art work together very well to illustrate this. Sebela’s script is tight and does a great job of using Zan’s voice to tell the story, and Moustafa’s art suits the story well as it’s more realistic than cartoony. In some ways it reminds me of Gary Erskine’s style. Moustafa’s panel placement is also solid and creates a steady rhythm for the story, and designing the panels and letters to look like notebook entries help create the feeling that we are sharing Zan’s most intimate thoughts.
Although I came to this mid-story, High Crimes 7 was easy to pick up and follow. Moreover, it’s a solid concept with a compelling character and plenty of drama. I enjoyed it enough that I want to read the back issues. Right now the story leaves Zan at perhaps her lowest: her drugs are gone, her friend is dead, and enemies surround her. I have no idea how she will get out of this, but I’d bet good money that she does. Recommended.
Age Rating: 17+
Released By: Monkeybrain
Release Date: June 11, 2014