A crow, or something crow-like is attacking people, an expat is selling moonshine and the local sheriff has two locals missing. Sounds like a bonafide mystery, but maybe the source of all the horror is from Iraq? That’s what I’m leaning towards, but more important answer…is it good?
The Dark & Bloody #3 (Vertigo Comics)
The story so far:
As Iris learns about more killings and how they connect to his days in Iraq, the truth of what happened during his military tour and how that connects him to Ayah is finally revealed. As retribution gets closer, he has to think fast to find a way to keep the monster his violence created from walking through his front door.
Why does this book matter?
If there’s one thing that seems to have become more prevalent in comics these days it’s good horror comics. The best of the best tend to be really good at humanizing the characters and getting to the truth of the kind of pain and anguish that real horror lies. This series potentially has that, particularly in its ability to capture the nothingness that lurks around us all.
He looks sleepy.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The source of evil at work in this series is revealed and it’s what I was expecting, but it’s also dark and disturbing. Shawn Aldridge has cooked up a horror tale that’s all about the things that haunt us and we can’t forget, and it ties into how expats can’t forget what they saw and did when at war. It’s a clever premise and certainly one I could see made into a movie. Meanwhile this story bounces between Iris, his son playing with the strange girl, and a flashback to Iris’ time in the Middle East. Aldridge cuts from each of these stories, building up the truth and horror that we were not yet aware of. I imagine parents reading this can relate to the fear of not knowing where your kids are and what kind of danger they could be in.
The flashback sequence is well done too and it is written in such a way for the reader to understand something terrible will happen and Iris is powerless to do anything about it. Again, a strong theme that’s incredibly powerful in horror, one of powerlessness, is used well in this issue. These scenes culminate into a horrific cliffhanger that is visually and emotionally disturbing. Good stuff if horror is your bag.
The art by Scott Godlewski is tempered and refined with no sudden movements, instead feeling introspective and meaningful throughout. Its pace is slow as if to say every moment in the issue is sorrowful. A scene with the local crazy works in part because the art makes you believe this crazy guy could actually be real. It’s in the flashback scenes that Godlewski’s art really shines as it’s paced fantastically and heightens the doom you know is coming for the characters.
It can’t be perfect can it?
I’m still not buying the necessity of this story moving so slowly. Characters develop slowly and so does the plot, with very few monster reveals and little visual horror to speak of. The problem might lie in the lack of horror elements or dramatic horror Iris is going through. Essentially he comes off as a bit of a lazy person who’s sad, rather than someone who is going through some messed up shit. Maybe it’s the way Godlewski draws his lazy and kind looking eyes or maybe it’s the dialogue which at times doesn’t seem meaningful at all.
Take this line where the captions read, “You might think love and war are different. But they ain’t. At they bones, both are about not fucking up. And not leaving a trail of dead when you do.” I’m at a loss as to how love leaves a trail of dead bodies behind. Does this mean most of us fall in love only to have the relationships end in death? It seems melodramatic and ultimately meaningless. Much like how this story is unfolding it comes off as punched up melodrama with nothing tethering it to events we’ve seen or understand.
To make matters worse the covers have been promising monsters of some sort or at the very least graphic horror elements which really aren’t appearing. They feel misleading.
I guess this guy has killed some people he’s loved? I get the “not fucking up” part but the trail of dead? Huh?
Is It Good?
This issue delivers a solid second half that’s gripping and painful to get through which is something horror can rarely do. The story however continues to feel too slow and it’s becoming harder to care as it reaches at straws for meaning.