The tricky thing about reviewing comics these days is many of them are written with the intention of being collected and read in one sitting. Reading a monthly comic leaves gaps, which can lead to stories that really should be read all at once. Not all books are like that though and typically the ones that aren’t get higher scores for each installment. After reading this issue I’m starting to think The Dark and Bloody is one of those books. Is it good?
The Dark and Bloody #4 (Vertigo Comics)
Not a lot has happened so far, but here’s the Vertigo official summary:
Now that Iris’s bloody past is exposed and his connection to the mysterious Ayah revealed, there is nothing stopping Ayah from openly seeking vengeance. With Iris sent away on an overnight trip to deliver moonshine, the cursed Iraqi girl goes to Iris’s house to take his son. She’ll go through anything and anyone to get the child, including Iris’s pregnant wife!
Why does this book matter?
Good horror comics can be hard to find on the stands. Any time there’s a new one, it’s worth taking a peek for a few reasons, not least of which is because they offer some of the most inventive premises you can find. This one is no exception, with ties to what soldiers did in the Middle East.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Now this is what I’m talking about! We get a lot of action including the stakes raising higher than ever. The events in this issue should have happened two issues earlier, but dang it’s nice to finally get this far into the story. Writer Shawn Aldridge opens the issue with the good guy side of the supernatural and does a good job making it believable enough. From there Iris continues on with added pressure from his boss–who was there when he was in the Middle East–and his family life is suffering even further. Aldridge basically took the threat level that was looming in the shadows and brought it right into Iris’ home and things really blow up in this issue.
The characters are well rendered too, with key moments for everyone that build them up well. Iris’ son’s friend gets some much-needed direction and it’s starting to become evident that maybe they aren’t so keen on destroying everything Iris has left. That’s compelling. Meanwhile Iris’ wife is just trying to keep Iris and his son healthy and happy and Iris’ boss jacks up the threat level to a 10. Things are coming to a head here character wise, but also event wise.
What a pretty page.
Scott Godlewski finally gets to draw the monster that we only barely saw in the first issue and damn is it frightening. It’s disturbing, especially for someone who dislikes birds. And one full page spread of the thing could be the movie poster it’s so damn good. That is if they make a movie, but this issue goes a long way in making you want one. Godlewski uses three double page layouts that help make the story feel bigger and I appreciate the time he puts into drawing the forest and environments around the characters. They truly feel all alone, which heightens the scary element in this book. There’s also a fantastic page near the end of Iris driving at night that uses a red sky to really amp up the blood-curdling horror in the series.
It can’t be perfect can it?
While the character development was good, I’m having a hard time with Iris’ boss as he’s not very believable. He’s basically a bully with a gun, but he hasn’t been given much humanity or personality beyond being a nutcase. As they say, the best villains don’t think they are, but so far this character is always straight up acting and saying things to make you hate him. His actions are always too dramatic and it’d be nice to see a bit or humanity in him.
Is It Good?
Minor quibble aside this is a great read. The horror is turned to 11 and the art freakishly good in more ways than one.