After a series of chats with gruesome conversationalists last issue (a decaying, anthropomorphic spiritual force in Coyote, a well-spoken corpse hanging from a tree) provided the lightest possible guidance, our boy Virgil Morris continues his slow awakening at the beginning of issue #3. Each vision he experiences hands out a new minor riddle to solve, the next stepping stone to enlightenment. Issue #3 gives us, finally, some substantial information — however telegraphed it might have been — as well as some of the monstrous action we’ve come to expect from the book.
What Virgil learns this issue — as we assumed from issue #1, there are demons, they infest people, Virgil should kill them — doesn’t exactly blow the readers mind (demonic possession has, after all, been looming over everything since the final pages of the first issue), nor does it need to; it’s Virgil’s journey, hopping from steppingstone to steppingstone, that keeps the reader rooted in the narrative.
One can’t help but like Virgil, who seems downright genuine, a man overwhelmed by his circumstances but game to stand against them — his interactions with loose-thread supporting cast member Nurse Frances have an “aw, shucks” nature to them that is endearingly sweet, while his moments of violent action are always tempered with a feeling that they might go horribly, irreparably awry at any moment.
Giangiordano maintains the artistic commitment to both war-born violence and a diverse array of creatures and creeps, which feels, sometimes, to be the highlight of the book — it’s not often that you find a book where the artwork is so visceral that you can’t help but revel in details of things you’d otherwise not want to look at. It’s a book that looks incredible, regardless of the content of any given page.
The issue isn’t particularly high-octane, and despite Virgil’s enlightenment, the reader doesn’t come out of the issue with anything new or noteworthy to ponder, and all the same, it feels whole, building an anticipatory momentum. Arcudi is establishing a pace for the story that delivers much more on the offbeat than on, with all that action happening in near silence and all the exposition happening in rich lulls, which makes the book sing in an altogether unique voice. For all my initial concerns, the book continues to be a monthly highlight.
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