Rating: 3/5 – A Normally Natural Supernatural Crime Story…So Far.
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.
Victorie City is billed as a hunt for the killer behind a series of supernatural murders. After 2 issues (released 1 week apart on January 27th and February 3rd) and what seemed to me to be a fairly standard murder story we finally get to what may be the introduction of the supernatural element on the last page of issue #2. This kind of “slow burn” is the kind of thing that makes for a better read in a collected edition, though having the issues released weekly instead of monthly makes it a bit easier to swallow in reading this in single issue format.
The story by Keith Carmack jumps around a lot. We have scenes with the killer on trial and in jail, and the detective who arrested him in issue #1 tracking down leads for another case and going about his personal life. Transitioning between different story elements is an extremely common storytelling technique, and something I normally take in stride, but for some reason it really felt distracting in this story. There were a lot of visual elements competing for my attention in this series. The art by Vincent Nappi is very loose, it’s in the stylistic tradition of Ashley Wood or Ben Templesmith. Washed out mostly monochromatic color schemes differentiate the scenes, and perhaps that’s an element that lead to the jarring affect the story had on me. This is a technique I’ve seen before and had it enhance the storytelling for me, but it didn’t seem to be having a positive effect on my reading experience in this series. The lettering, by Jessi Adrignola, was also a front-of-mind concern in the story and one of the elements that worked best for me. The key characters had their own distinctive lettering and word balloon styles. It gave me another visual cue about the speaker and added tonality to their speech, particularly the styles used for killer Braham Allvar and Detective Hektor.
At the end of 2 issues this “supernatural” story seems pretty “normally natural” to me with the sole exception of the last page of issue #2. There is a normal thru-line of the noble detective bucking a corrupt department and being punished for it while trying to seek out justice. There is a heinous killer who is successfully pained as a thoroughly unsavory character. Pulling this all together and tacking on the supernatural element seems almost superfluous to the story by 2 issues into the series. It seems like this could have been told as a straight crime story without the supernatural element. That said, I want to be sensitive about not knocking the story for being what it is instead of what I think it should be. I think it will read better in a single chunk, at least for me. Given that it’s a weekly series, it would be relatively easy to collect up the issues and read them in a single sitting, or just wait for the collected edition which should be along in a few months. While it’s on the racks it’s worth flip[ping through if your shop has any copies if only to see how the art and design elements strike you. I think this is a series that people will either take to immediately from a visual standpoint, or else be put off by it. That’s not good or bad, it’s just the subjective nature of art appreciation.
Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
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