Eliot Rahal and Jorge Fornes

AfterShock Comics

August 8th, 2018


I’m a sucker for provincialism. Minnesota sports. Minnesota beer. Scotch tape. Minnesota… crime?

Oh, yes.

That puts HOT LUNCH SPECIAL, the new crime drama from Eliot Rahal (The Paybacks, Quantum & Woody) and Jorge Fornes (Amazing X-Men, Wolverine) dropping August 8th from AfterShock Comics, right into my wheelhouse.

Reviewing the first issue of a comic is tricky: you have less material to cover than you do in a trade collection or novel. And honestly, the first issue’s job is really just to set the stage, introduce the players, and establish the tone. Rahal and Fornes take care of the exposition in a clever way: young Ben Khoury is giving a class presentation on his family. In a series of beautifully understated panels from Fornes, we learn that the Khoury family has had criminal ties that stretch back to the closing days of World War II. Eventually, Ben’s great-grandfather brought his family to Ely in northern Minnesota and established their restaurant, The Landing, and the parent company Khoury Foods. Khoury Foods is the premier supplier of vending machine and gas station sandwiches in the state.

Have you ever had a Chuck Wagon? Yeah. Just like that.

With business doing well, Khoury Foods has started on their next stage of distribution: the Dakotas and Wisconsin. To do that, you need to get your meat suppliers on board. Then it’s a matter of trucking your product to the new states. And that is where the crux of our story lies.

Jordan Khoury is the head of Khoury Foods, and young Ben’s grandfather, or “jiddo.” Long ago, the Khoury’s had established a business relationship with the Moran family in Chicago to use their trucking company for distribution throughout Minnesota. The Khourys have honored that agreement in full and have now decided on other truckling line for the new venture. The Morans are not happy with that turn of events.

To show how serious they are, the Morans have attacked one of the Khoury’s supply trucks and sent one of the driver’s fingers into the sandwich packaging system. It’s kind of like getting a prize at the bottom of a cereal box. Only this prize is a trucker’s finger. Needless to say, it’s discovery makes for an unsettling mealtime surprise. It’s here we meet Le Sueur County Deputy Lisa Olson. She’s doing her best to get to the bottom of this mess with the truck and the now nine-fingered truck driver.

HOT LUNCH SPECIAL has tons of potential. It scratches that itch for a real-world crime drama that places it’s focus on family dynamics and respect for the immigrant experience. It’s not mean or nasty, the Khoury’s clearly love each other and Ben enjoys being part of the family business. The story is set in motion by one single business decision, and it’s that decision- trucking- that sets everything else in motion.

I can’t say enough about the work from Jorge Fornes. Fornes is a new name for me, but from now on I’ll be on the lookout for more of his work. His soft linework is very reminiscent of the work of superstar artist Michael Lark. Very realistic figures, and great storytelling and movement from panel to panel.

Rahal and Fornes give us a winner with HOT LUNCH SPECIAL #1, and I’m anxious to see where the story takes us from here.


Dan Malmon