Rating: 3.5/5 – Crime with horror elements mixed to create a suspenseful page turner
One of the tricks of the trade involves teasing out my personal prejudices from legitimate concerns. Making this more problematic is that often those prejudices are rooted in actual arguments. Case in point, here we have a crime story that starts page one in a courtroom. I am not much of a fan of courtroom comics for a variety of reasons, some more wide-ranging in applicability than others. To illustrate my point, I feel like court room procedurals have been well mined by television shows; smart, attractive people in smart attractive outfits with smart attractive dialogue resolving concerns in a single setting. That is something TV can do well so why tread the same ground in a comic? Luckily by the second page, we have left the courtroom, not to return in this issue but I had to shake that out my system. Now you are feeling like I took you for a long walk on a short pier so let us get into the book.
We have story, pencils and letters by Dan Dougherty, inks by Dan Dougherty and Wesley Wong with colors by Wesley Wong and colors assist by Sheila Johnson. The cover artwork is by Stephen Bryant. Sometimes certain styles and trends pass me by in my old age as I keep framing the book as a black and white book due to its crime roots. I have no objection to the execution of the colors in the book but just silly old prejudices. The artwork successfully identifies the somewhat large cast of characters, absent the traditional capes and cowls that normally provide ease of identification. The action sequences are likewise blocked and executed. Aesthetically it is not my preference but that is personal preference and we can all be gratefully my tastes are not the sole arbiter of what gets published.
Our story follows a successful but jaded defense attorney, Ada Mansfield, who has just assisted her client in securing his freedom. She is ordered by her boss, Vincent Doyle, to personally deliver news to a special inmate, Marvin Penn, locked away in an unusual prison. She is not most pleased as she, a single mother, is dealing with a rebellious teenage son but agrees. We move to the prison to learn the secrets of the inmate which introduces our supernatural twist to the tale. She delivers the news and is changed by the inmate. The rest of the tale involves her coping with this event. To speak to the book’s credit, the final cliffhanger sent me immediately to look at issue 2 which is high praise.
The team does a good job coloring the lives of the protagonist, her boss, and the inmate. The pacing works well except the book gets a little exposition heavy when the warden is building up the story of the prison. There is a nice balance to the three main players and we even get a little time with the son and the client from the book. I am deliberately being vague about the twist involved here because much of the build-up involves that. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the entire book does not hinge on the twist. They have done a good job at building this world, with real people whose fates I find compelling and want to discover more about. It is not available via Diamond at this time, but can be ordered directly from the Beardo Comics website. As of this writing it’s still showing up as a “pre-order”, but the book should be available, so go ahead and place your order if this sounds intriguing. If you give it a shot write me at the e-mail address below and let me know what you think.
Reviewed by: Andrew Sanford – firstname.lastname@example.org
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