Image Comics puts out some of the best horror comics and certainly the best monthly horror comics. Redlands has been a delight as it has offered a different type of witch tale with an incredibly atmospheric art style. This week’s issue is the last of the first story arc and promises answers in solving a woman’s murder.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Nancy has discovered her fire, and in an all-out, claws-flying brawl, Casper discovers she’s not who she seems. The town of Redlands greets an old friend of many names, but the witches call him by just one: Father.
Why does this matter?
Jordie Bellaire and Vanesa R. Del Rey have not only created a strong horror comic but a horror comic with a deeper meaning about strong female characters; about women who suffer and are abused; about a world where there may not be a god, but there’s certainly a devil.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
It’s hard to believe places like this exist.
This issue opens with a flashback to a moment Nancy, the ghost that inhibits Bridgit’s body, endured at a whore house in 1984. It involves a specific man that appears later in the issue, which builds up the readers expectations as far as who this man is and who he becomes. Bellaire and Del Rey set us up for his meeting with Nancy later on in life in a moment many women probably wished they could have. Imagine someone abusing you, then years later wearing someone else’s face and being able to make some kind of peace. The scene breaks down quickly as one might expect and there’s a lot of anguish and pain left on the page. This closes out the book and leaves you thinking and commiserating with the pain Nancy went through.
Along the way, Casper is being dragged around well aware Bridgit is not the one controlling her mind. It creates an interesting dynamic and Bellaire uses this to full effect in a diner scene. In it, the owner is an ignorant racist and he must endure her to keep up with Nancy’s wishes.
The art continues to be great even though much of this issue is made up of two shots of characters talking. The opening scene in the whorehouse–decorated in blood red as if it’s hell itself–drives home the awkward and impossible situation Nancy was in as a 16-year-old kid. In a key moment between Nancy and John later in the issue, Del Rey draws you in with a shot that closes in on the despicable man. In this scene it is made quite clear there’s an evil in him we may not have been aware of. Creepy stuff.
It can’t be perfect can it?
It’s somewhat odd the story has veered off to focus on Nancy. With the first few issues focusing on the other characters the narrative seems to have swung to solve this specific person’s murder (a person who wasn’t even in the tale in the first few issues). Narratively speaking it’s a schizophrenic turn, but admittedly it’s still an entertaining one.
Is It Good?
Redlands closes out its first arc with deep emotion and pain many will relate to. This comic series seems to prove it’s not just another horror comic, but one that deserves to be read.