Bryan Hill’s American Carnage only seems to know one speed: The writing is intriguing, the atmosphere is tense, and the story incites. Issue six of the DC Vertigo comic is no different. The racial divide is still a big focus, but this issue more than any other examines the police procedural part of the story. It’s a great idea that gives readers further insight into its characters while still progressing its narrative.
Hill’s writing in the sixth issue of American Carnage is fantastic. The opening page sets a tone that remains the entire issue, in the form of a long monologue from Wynn Morgan. Once the blatant racism is over, the comic keeps the ire of readers up with a series of strong confrontations between many different characters. This may be the least action packed issue of the series so far, but it is also the most dramatic.
The Wynns come off as particularly frightening during the issue. Wynn’s venomous speech to Richard will anger anyone who reads the book. What makes the whole scene so heartbreaking is it is the type of thing we have heard before. Things become even worse during the shocking finale of American Carnage. Jennifer Morgan has always operated in a weird middle ground of reluctant villain to straight up evil. Even in this issue the reader seems to see the two sides of her.
This seeming comfort with which she is willing to play all sides makes the end so jolting. Those who have been following the book know that Wynn is a bad person. No matter how many different ways he tries to discuss his views using clever wordplay, the fact is he is still a racist. Jennifer is harder to pin down, making her actions more sympathetic and scary. The end of the issue shows just how much power the Wynns have and still paints Jennifer in a caring yet evil light.
There’s also additional character development given to Shelia. Her role has become more diminished as the series has progressed (this is out of necessity plus the parts she is in tend to be great). This issue sees that Shelia is just as torn as Richard. What once began as a personal crusade to seek justice seems like it can easily morph into one for vengeance. It will be interesting to follow her character as the story progresses.
Oddly, the least interesting character in American Carnage has been the protagonist. Richard just does not warrant the sympathy that one would expect. It’s not that he’s poorly written, it’s just that he is so generic. This issue sees Richard talk about what a bad person he is. He has some moments to shine — he gets in a nice line when talking to Wynn and his moments of weakness at the end are captured well. However, he is usually just portrayed as a brooding tough cop. It may be due to the fact that he is surrounded by dynamic and interesting characters, but for whatever reason, he stands out as the weakest.
Leandro Fernandez some great work. What really stands out in issue #6’s artwork is the panel placement. Everything is given a cinematic feel. The issue is laid out more like storyboards than a comic book. This also adds to the drama of the scenes. Fernandez does a great job of capturing the tension that fills American Carnage. The beginning is especially well done. Readers can actually see the hate that is being spewed by Wynn.
American Carnage #6 is another strong one that comic book fans must read. The comic wastes no time in angering its readers, leading straight into a tense story that ends on a very frightening note. We live in a culture that loves to binge things. American Carnage will definitely make readers mad, but it’s certainly perfect for binging.