Following the success of Ed Brubaker’s Criminal and Darwyn Cooke’s The Hunter, Vertigo throws its hat into the noir ring. Its new crime imprint launches with two high-profile releases by British mystery writer Ian Rankin and Eisner winner Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets).

Rankin, author of the popular Inspector Rebus novels, makes his comics debut with Dark Entries, putting a spin on the “locked-room” mysteries of Agatha Christie. “Haunted Palace” is a reality show in which contestants are locked in a supposedly haunted house where they must overcome their fears to win the big prize.

The problem is the house has taken on a mind of its own and is tormenting the contestants in ways the producers hadn’t planned. So they call in John Constantine, who agrees to be locked in the house with them in order to solve the supernatural crisis.

Rankin dishes up plenty of twists while Werther Dell’Edera of Loveless provides the artwork.

Brian Azzarello does hardboiled Mickey Spillane-style noir in Filthy Rich, a tale of a could-have-been great ex-football player called Junk. Now a lousy car salesman, Junk takes a job keeping the boss’ tabloid cover daughter out of the news. But he soon falls for the beautiful, manipulative socialite and winds up committing murder.

Azzarello provides his usual amount of sex and violence with art by Victor Santos.

Both books are now available in small-format, black and white hardcover editions.

Grades: A-/B+

Dark Entries/Filthy Rich are both currently available.