Devil’s Highway has been an absorbing noir detective story that’s creepy, unnerving, and well told. The first issue was a fantastic first stab at the revelation that someone is killing women at truck stops. The second issue helped open up the investigation into something bigger than we might have anticipated. In the third issue, Shannon gets closer to the truth, but at what cost?
Like any good murder mystery steeped in detective noir, this book is quite good at revealing the scum that makes up the culprits in the case. Why it works better here than in many other iterations is because they aren’t pure evil, but a kind of dirtbag that preys on women and protects each other. It’s entirely believable these bastards exist in the real world, making this story all the more harrowing. That also carries over to Shannon’s contacts, who are as colorful as the bad guys. There are a few new characters that pop up here that practically sound a specific way if you look really closely to the art, giving the book further personality.
As far as the story goes, this issue progresses things and closes the door on bad people sending a message to Shannon. Writer Benjamin Percy and artist Brent Schoonover deliver on conflict coming to a head and seriously messing with Shannon’s safety. Even the final few pages ramp up the danger in an unnerving way.
The environments and setting continue to mix things up, making this small-town investigation feel bigger. Like lifting a brick and seeing bugs skittering, this series shows us Anytown, U.S.A. has plenty of character. In the opening scene at a truck stop, the warm light of early morning creates a sense of mystery while mountains loom in the distance. A strip club is cast in strips of pinks and purples by color artist Nick Filardi, making the setting seem magical and otherworldly. A reptile pet shop is cast in yellows and warm colors as if to convey it’s the pits of Hell, and as we see in the story, that’s an accurate depiction given what happens. The color also adds depth and volume to characters — a slight shadow on a face, for instance, brings it out a bit — and there’s subtle color texture used throughout to give the book more detail.
Something that’s so key to this comic are Shannon’s expressions. She’s usually determined, even when shocked, and you get the sense she’s always in control. You root for her and her detective work because you know she has a handle on it no matter the situation.
Devil’s Highway #3 is a good issue in what is becoming the best crime series of 2020. Its ability to show the seedy underbelly of small-town America, move forward an interesting mystery, and highlight the personality of its lead character all combine into a crime thriller worth reading.