A modern family of thieves in Chicago takes center stage in TKO Studios’ The Banks


Review by C.J. Bunce

One stylistic feature stands out in TKO Studios′ second wave of comic book titles released this month: Although each series is available in a comic book format, the stories read like graphic novels, as if the need to have the six chapter breaks is only an excuse to have an attractive corresponding cover.  It’s not a bad thing.  In fact, with frequent two-issue arcs and eight-issue, ten-issue, or even more issues in a complete story like you’d find in traditional publishing, the six-issue template is easy to get accustomed to.  Readers may notice this the most in The Banks, a crime story that spans three generations of an African-American family of thieves in Chicago, written by Roxane Gay (Black Panther: World of Wakanda), with artwork by Ming Doyle (The Kitchen), and colors by Jordie Bellaire (Hawkeye, The Wake).

Evenly paced with not a lot of spikes of action in each issue/chapter, The Banks is a quiet tale–a character study of different personalities reacting to a new opportunity from different points of view.  Celia is the thirty-something straight shooter who, despite her best efforts, can’t break through the glass ceiling at her supposedly legit career job.  Her grandfather was a well-known ex-con, but it turns out so was her grandmother and mother.  So when Celia is passed over for promotion again, she decides following in the family business is worth a try.


The challenge of the story for the comic book format is that the story requires a lot of conversations between characters, and not a lot of set pieces.  Without the typical comic book theatrics, exotic locations, and choreographed action scenes, this feels more like a novel that happens to be told in a visual format.  The story is a good one–this has a Luke Cage vibe and is structured like the recent Shaft movie featuring three generation of men in the Shaft family (made famous originally in the 1970s movie).  You may find yourself casting the characters with actors for the TV version the publisher no doubt hopes to net from at least one of these new titles (think Pam Grier, Rosario Dawson, Simone Missick, and Nicole Beharie or Tessa Thompson).

Here are some preview pages courtesy of the publisher:

The story isn’t The Bank Job or The Italian Job–don’t expect a complicated heist here to puzzle through.  It’s more like a classic Batgirl or Spider-Man storyline swapping out the teen for a thirty-year-old who hasn’t figured out who she is yet.  She’s strong-willed but she’s lacking in positive influences, yet, like the Corleones, Celia’s family has its own ideas of honor and good.  Doyle’s layouts are reminiscent of DC Comics in the 1980s and early 1990s.

We don’t yet know which, if any, of the eight TKO Studios series released this year will continue.  This is a series that leaves the possibility open.

A solid story with interesting characters, The Banks is available at Elite Comics or order direct from the publisher at TKOPresents.com.

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