When a monster has your child what do you do? If you’re the protaganist of this horror tale you get a gun and prepare for war. Things are really heating up in this penultimate issue, but is it good?
The Dark & Bloody #5 (Vertigo Comics)
The official Vertigo summary reads:
The cursed girl Ayah has taken Iris’ son Shiloh, leaving Iris no choice but to go after her and confront the demons of his past. To do that, he’ll have to bring in the man who was truly responsible for the massacre in Iraq that took Ayah’s family from her. If Ayah is seeking an eye for an eye, then it’s Eric’s head she’ll be wanting.
Why does this book matter?
Part war story (Iraq to be more specific) part southern wild magic, writer Shawn Aldridge and artist Scott Godlewski have cooked up a brooding tale of impending doom quite well. As the story has progressed we’ve been privy to why a monster might be lurking after our seemingly innocent protagonist, but like any good horror story nothing is as it seems. On top of that, there are some creepy surprises and this issue has to have more up its sleeve.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Godlewski and Aldridge keep the pedal to the metal after an action packed–and incredibly tense–last issue with a no holds barred amount of violence, monster madness, and hard choices in this issue. Meanwhile we get a better sense of the monster who has befriended Iris’ son and ultimately Iris himself. This is good storytelling, in part because we are informed of who the characters are by the actions they must take. That includes the monster who I hope we learn a bit more about in the final issue next month.
Don’t go kid don’t go!
Aldridge outdoes himself again, this time with some very good character acting that informs the reader what’s going down with as little effort as possible. Bottom line is every panel feels genuine and important which heightens the tension between panels. I continue to enjoy his double page layouts as well which help increase the scene’s resonance as it allows for more panels, but also panels that run wider than usual. When the monster does appear again it is truly grotesque and gnarly to look at. This is a beast that feels incredibly new, which increases the uniqueness of the story.
The issue ends quite well too, which puts into question who the hero really is and shows us an action that could change everything come next issue. Considering backwoods magic isn’t helping it’s clear the story is going in a direction that’s all about testing the resolve of our hero. That means a story that is driven by character which is always a good thing.
It can’t be perfect can it?
My only gripe was how the magic southerner who helped in a previous issue is used. Avoiding spoilers here, but he seems to have been set up to add more to the story than he does here. Maybe he’ll come back in the final issue, but it seems like a missed opportunity more than anything else.
Yeah, punch the birds. That’ll work.
Is It Good?
After a bumpy issue or two it’s pretty clear by this penultimate issue that this is going to be one fantastic horror comic when it’s collected. This issue is all kinds of good due to strong character moments, a monster that will creep you out, and a story that will test the protagonist in what it means to be a good person.
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