High Crimes 

By Christopher Sebela & Ibrahim Moustafa (Dark Horse) 
ISBN: 978-1-61655-472-9 (HB) 978-1-53431-047-6 (TPB/Digital edition) 

Generally I prefer to go into loads of detail regarding the plot of a book under review but sometimes that’s not possible or even fair. This is definitely one of those occasions… 

High Crimes originated as a 12-part digital comic from writer Christopher Sebela (Screamland: Death of the Party, Captain Marvel, Escape from New York) and artist Ibrahim Moustafa (The Pound: Ghoul’s Night Out, The Flash: Season Zero). It was produced by Monkeybrain Comics and its stunning blend of captivating big-sky concept, seedy suspense thriller and chase-movie blockbuster was just too heady an experience to deny fellow action fans. 

The scintillating serial took the industry by storm; garnering immense praise and loads of award nominations and was on completion collected by Dark Horse in its entirety – along with sidebar stories and a wealth of behind-the-scenes and promotional material – into a splendid hardcover and paperback chronicle for a wider, more traditionally-minded, book-loving audience. 

Once upon a time Suzanne Jensen owned the world. Now she’s an exile eking out a shabby life on its metaphorical roof. When she was a world-famous Olympic snowboarder, medals piled up, but after the authorities discovered their public paragon of perfection was an unrepentant recreational drug abuser, “Zan” went to extraordinary lengths to escape punishment, abandoning everything she knew and loved to avoid giving back those glittering but pointless symbols of former greatness. 

Drifting across the globe, she eventually settled in Kathmandu, working as a fly-by-night, cut-rate guide, living life one pharmaceutical hit and geological challenge at a time. Despite countless promises to herself, however, she never quite made it to the top of the granite goddess dominating the view and attention of everyone around her, native, grifter or spoiled obnoxious tourist… 

She found makework and a fellow damaged soul in aged burn-out Haskell Price, who preys on the families of rich idiots and starry-eyed dreamers risking everything to reach the top of Mount Everest. Haskell is a cold-hearted modern-day graverobber, collecting small personal effects and occasionally recovering the bodies of the many climbers who don’t make it. 

More accurately, he initially rescues just their right hands (for fingerprint identification), strong-arming grieving relatives into handing over cash to retrieve the complete cadaver for decent burial. The mountain takes a ferocious toll on the ever-growing mass of thrill-seeking visitors, and even if only one bereaved family in a handful fall for his proffered “service”, it’s enough to get by… 

Everything changes when he finds a corpse-icle lost for years near the summit. When these particular prints are faxed Stateside it unleashes an avalanche of terror in the form of an ultra-secret, black-ops hit-squad determined to find missing super-agent Sullivan Mars and – most importantly – the still-crucial secrets he absconded with so long ago. Haskell can’t help them when they turn up, since Zan has already swiped Mars’s journal and a canister of microfilm, but when she sees the collateral carnage the cleaner-squad are prepared to inflict, she makes the craziest decision of her life. 

As the merciless operatives force Haskell to lead them on the arduous, weeks-long trek to the summit and Mars’ body, she determines that with no place left to run she’s going to clean up her own mess for once. 

Following the killer elite, Zan resolves to rescue Haskell, or barring that, at least finally get to summit of the overpowering mountain and see the world as it truly is before she dies… 

Mirroring her slow and torturous progress with a succession of shocking revelations from Sullivan’s stolen secrets, and clocking up a startling bodycount, this epic odyssey offers a stupendous and breathtakingly vicarious journey of discovery no armchair adrenaline addict could possibly resist, with an emotional pay-off that is a joy to behold and shock to experience. 

Preceded by an Introduction from Greg Rucka, the compulsively enthralling yarn is complimented by a Bonus Features section including commentary by author Sebela; alternate cover sketches; the 3-page trailer vignette ‘Strange Truths’ from Free Comic Book Day 2014’s ‘Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s Defend Comics’; a “declassified” ‘User’s Guide to High Crimes’, loads of character sketches and all the phenomenal, inspired and imaginative promotional postings and briefs issued to rouse interest in the series. 

Epic, arduous and devastatingly addictive, something to treasure for all the right reasons and not just because it’s there… 
High Crimes™ © 2013, 2014 Christopher Sebela & Ibrahim Moustafa. All rights reserved.