At a lonely cottage on Loch Ness, Ronnie Cotter spends some quality time with his little girl, Adele. There is a noise outside so he pushes Adele in the cupboard and goes out to be shot. Minto, Maltese Joe, Billy Blades and Harry X are button men. They kill for money.
Ronnie Cotter had been a button man himself. He managed to incriminate Minto by a bit of pre-planning, having a glass with his fingerprints on at the cottage, so that scoundrel is arrested. The others get away with it. Adele is traumatised and can tell the police nothing. Kindly Uncle Max sends her off to a nice school where she learns martial arts. Years later she tracks down Minto and finds out that the others, apart from Harry X, are dead. Button men do not live long and Minto only survived because he was in jail. Adele wants to get the men who ordered her father’s killing. There then unfolds a film noir story of double-dealing, treachery and ruthlessness with just a dash of sentiment, like yeast in a good loaf.
The art by Frazer Irving serves the writing pretty well. He is good with expressions and it is always clear what’s happening. That sounds trivial but some artists get so carried away with style and poster making that they forget they’re meant to be telling a story.
Like ‘A History of Violence’ this gangster yarn would make a good film, or at least a good two-part ITV drama. Of course, John Wagner wrote ‘A History of Violence’ so he’s good at this sort of thing. I thought it was a brilliant film but I’m not sure it was a box office success.
This is a good read but a short one. You get about an hours entertainment for your money and by the nature of the story, of this type of tale, once you know the ending there is no point in reading it again. As with films like ‘Jagged Edge‘, ‘The Usual Suspects’ and ‘Sixth Sense’ it’s a one ride pony. I guess that can’t be helped. On the bright side, if you enjoyed the ride there are several other books in the Button Man Graphic Novel range and you can seek them out.
This review first appeared at https://www.sfcrowsnest.info/