The 1970s seemed to be the prime foundation for this movement of mafia culture. Two of arguably the most beloved films of all time released during this era. The Godfather & The Godfather Part II shone a light on the mafia family. Not to mention the real life business of infamous criminal, Whitey Bulger, and his operation throughout the decade. It should come as no surprise that writer, Ollie Masters, would chose the late 1970s for the backdrop of his 2015 mini-series, The Kitchen.
The Kitchen tells the story of three woman, Kath, Raven and Angie, who reluctantly take up their husbands position within the mafia when they are incarnated. The book spans eight issues and shows the journey of each woman’s slow decent into a life of crime. Honestly the concept of The Kitchen is phenomenal. When we meet these women within the first few pages of the first issue they are extremely reluctant to take up this spot for their husbands. Kath, who is the driving force of the book, understands the responsibilities of their husbands. Her opening narration reads “And when he went to prison, he left big shoes to fill.” (The Kitchen #1, Page 4) Though it’s the art team of Ming Doyle and Jordie Bellaire who really deliver the emotional arc of the latter two woman and their hesitation towards this life of crime.
The duel artist team craft a rough and sharp striking visual aesthetic to the book. It’s violent, raw and emotional all within the same breath. In some ways, the emotional journeys within these pages feel like Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone (from The Godfather). That’s one thing I truly came to love and respect about this book. Each and every main player has their own satisfying journey that’s miles away from where they started. It’s the awesome pairing of Masters and Doyle that help to make that such a fulfilling reading experience. Though it’s not always the best execution.
The narrative delivery of The Kitchen feels precarious in some of its’ choices. For starters, it can be a bit big at times. At its’ core, it showcases the journey of three wives into the dangerous world of the mob. Which in and of itself is already an intriguing plot. The storytelling jumps anywhere from a month or two to a full year at times. Which can make it hard to follow at times. There are a few times where the plot can feel a bit overcomplicated at times. Such is the nature of a fallout at times, however. When readers first big up the book, the pace can be a bit fast. Not even joking in saying the backstory of these characters is a mere three pages and twenty panels. Readers are almost expected to know a lot of the past before jumping into the present. Same goes for the ending of the book. It feels abrupt and just a left field choice for the character’s arcs.
Overall, The Kitchen (2015), feels like it has a lot to offer but can fall a bit short. Presented in glorious grit and a raw visual aesthetic – the art by Ming Doyle and Jordie Bellaire craft a lasting impression for reader’s eyes. It’s only when that raw masterpiece is paired with the storytelling of Ollie Masters does it meet some complications. The random time jumps and sometimes over busy plot make the narrative feels suffocated. As if to think the series should have been longer than it actually is to flesh out some of the issues. The arcs of each main character, however, allow for a satisfying read that is set in the vein of The Godfather. The Kitchen is gorgeous and complicated within the same breath.
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