Halloween is upon us, and perhaps no book better encapsulates the combination of spooky season with comic book adventure than The Devil’s Red Bride. It’s a quaint little tale on samurais butchering people — a classic tale we can all put ourselves into, but it is more than just a unique take on the grindhouse genre. The Devil’s Red Bride manages to really be this coy perception about gender dynamics within the construct of power, allowing for the simple joys found in brutality while giving these layered perceptions about our world.
Even more, it is fascinating that this story can hold an audience despite how much is going on. Within one issue we come to understand: there is a war between respective clans occurring, a woman has taken on the role of a ronin, and there is a resistance to the current status quo being undertaken. These types of revelations usually are paced out over several issues of an arc, but writer Sebastian Girner gets straight to the point, without diluting his characters or plot. In being this blunt with his storytelling, it allows for the dynamics between characters to be way newer within the cloak of familiarity.
In tow, artist John Bivens is simply stellar with his unique line art in this book, reminiscent of the original manga of Lady Snowblood. Biven’s art has this simple but sturdy effect that allows for a wonderful flow to each panel and gives a proper fluidity in the art style.
Adding to this wonderful art style is colorist Iris Monahan, who manages to really do a wonderful job with just red black and white. The accentuation and dynamism that she brings to the unique set of lines really pop, and make it reminiscent of something found within a manga cover or those old Japanese paintings. Pairing well with here is letterer Jeff Powell, who aids the unique styles that overlay this book.
Overall, The Devil’s Red Bride #1 is a wonderfully strong and potent delight. It offers as much nuance and depth in its narrative as anything in the Criterion Collection. The tale that Sebastian Girner has formulated is at once exciting and fervent in tackling the genre.