Redlands has been a delightful reading experience not just because it’s good horror, but because it defies expectations. Jordie Bellaire and Vanesa R. Del Rey are doing new things with comic storytelling but also with the use of witches in this story. It’s a slow boil story that gives you just enough info to keep your head above water, which is possibly one of the best elements of the greatest horror tales.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Love and righteousness keep the biggest hearts in Redlands, despite the crime rate. But the biggest hearts are within the biggest beasts, and no animal or serial killer is safe if they dare to cross them.
Why does this matter?
It’s Halloween in only a few short weeks so get in the groove with a creeptastic story from two of the strongest creators in comics today. Plus this book has adult themes so you know you’re getting something for adults only!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Great opening page.
This issue opens with two hickish characters going at it on a hood of a car on some backroad. It’s certainly not what I was expecting, but Bellaire and Del Rey do well to keep your interest especially with a great full page spread of these folks and the tall trees that tower over them. This first page is a good example of how this series imbues a sense of dread with something seemingly benign. This all leads to a conflict and an interesting new character who ends up being the backbone of the issue. As the story progresses we get a sense of the town police force (they’re violent pricks) and the nature of the new character.
To say much more is to spoil things, but expect sex, violence, and bloody dog teeth fun. The issue as a whole has a wispy free form pace that goes where it wants to, which ends up surprising readers with developments you might have expected many issues later. Regardless of that, it never loses sight of its identity and continues to tell a horror story on its own terms, which is incredibly refreshing.
Del Rey draws a great issue here, with good panel work to help pace at opportune times. The sex scene, for instance, slows things down with an 11-panel layout culminating to another page with a 3-page layout that nails down the passion and lust of the characters. The use of darkness is exceptional as well with black and blues conveying the isolation of the location. It seems Del Rey has an affinity for trees, which get more than a few moments to tower over our characters. It’s an interesting way to make the characters feel small, but also convey a sense of dread and horror of the unknown.
It’s worth noting this issue has some interesting backmatter via fake newspaper clippings and old photographs. It’s a nice addition that adds to the layering of this new character that not only fleshes out the world a bit but gives the series a more realistic feel.
Those teeth are creeping me out.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The unpredictability of this issue is a double-edged sword. Not knowing what can happen next ends up delivering surprises and plot progression you don’t see coming, but it also leaves you wondering where this is all going and not necessarily in a good way. This issue ends with a big question mark as far as the conflict set up in the last few issues, but also what the deal is with the new character and the coven in general. I have so many questions I’m starting to lose the thread of the narrative. I’m still very interested, but a bit nervous on where this goes from here.
Is It Good?
An excellent horror story that defies expectations. Read this for the dread-filled moody art, but stay for the originality of it all.