This made a better movie than a comic book. The comic,
on which the movie was based, is a unique masterpiece visually, but the
plot is pretty weak. Several plot points were streamlined, and the themes
were delineated and treated with more respect in the movie. Max Allan
Collin’s script for the comic suffers from not achieving the correct
balance between historical fact and fiction, and much of the dialogue
is poor. Collins also clearly liked writing extremely absurd John Woo
style bloody gunfights, which take up a good portion of the book, detracting
from the powerful underlying themes of a strong father-son relationship.
Of course, Collins deserves credit for the original concept, which takes
the mythic story of the Japanese Lone Wolf and Cub and translates it
into the 1930s gangster era. And both Tom Hanks and especially Paul Newman
bring a lot more to their characters than can be found in the comic.
But the book is worth getting just for Richard Piers Rayner’s
art, incredibly detailed precise line work which took several years to
complete. The art evokes lithographic prints, old newspapers, and photographs
of the era superbly, and contains great renditions of Eliot Ness, Al
Capone, and Frank Viti, as well as stunning cityscapes of old Chicago.