This is horror that’ll unnerve, scare, and make you feel things.

Redlands has been a good story not only thanks to its strong horror roots, but also because of its strong message of women empowerment. The main characters may be witches who have taken over a town, but they still rule with (mostly) justice. The last few issues have introduced new characters and a new plot that you may not have seen coming and it’s in this issue that its meaning is brought to the fore.

So what’s it about?

The official summary reads:

A new woman has entered the Redlands coven, but the catch is she’s dead. While Casper goes on an adventure to find the stranger’s killer, the witches of Redlands are left alone with their own problems: the dead never stay buried.

Why does this matter?

Jordie Bellaire and Vanesa Del Ray have been telling a horror story that draws you in because its characters are genuine and intriguing. The premise is incredibly original too and I could easily see this as a successful TV series on AMC or FX.

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

This can’t end well.

This issue delivers a lot of thought provoking story and character development. Some for one of the witches, but most of it is devoted to a new mysterious character whose body was found in a sewer drain. If where they found her sounds sad, you don’t even know the half of it. Bellaire writes the last eight pages from a little girl’s perspective after her terrible father drops her off at a brothel. This portion is brutal and made even more so by the lined paper journal entries, the handwritten entries, and the doodles here and there. You really do feel like you’re reading a young girl’s experience, which is horrific and deeply sad. The feelings you’ll have over these last few pages will give you a new definition of horror — it may be one of the scariest things you read in a comic all year.

The story also furthers backstory with two flashbacks that help flesh out the characters. In a surprise, we meet a new character who is very scary and seems to have a relationship with the witches. There’s still a lot to learn about these characters and their place in the town, but in this issue, we get some key flashbacks that seem to suggest these characters may have deep ties to American history and culture.

Del Ray’s art continues to be a highlight with a dark and grimy look that’s easily felt. There’s a brutal scene, all cast in red, that is straight out of a horror short. There are scenes in the daylight too — a nice reminder this comic isn’t a conventional horror story — and the characters look natural and realistic. The story hops around a lot, but it’s never confusing. The final eight pages torn from the little girl’s notebook are expertly done too. You’ll think they were really written by a poor girl in a terrible situation.

This story jumps around in time.

It can’t be perfect can it?

If you want to pick up this issue without reading previous issues you will be lost. That’s more of a problem due to the flashbacks, but much of this issue isn’t even about the main characters, which could be very confusing.

Is It Good?

This is an excellent issue about women empowerment and the hellish nightmare some must endure. It’ll make you feel sick, sad, and scared, which is something many horror comics can’t claim to do. This is tops horror comics.

Redlands #5
Is it good?
An excellent chapter that's deeply meaningful.
Incredible last eight pages are deeply scary, unnerving, and upsetting
Art is realistic and gritty
Good flashbacks help flesh these characters out well
If you're just joining this series you will be lost