Travis Crowe has an ordinary life. He doesn’t get along with his boss; he has an estranged step-brother of sorts who is trying to make amends, and a loving girl-friend. Oh! I forgot to mention he is being hunted down by a crazed psychopath. Is it good?
Sons of the Devil #1 (Image Comics)
First off, Image is promoting this book as a “psychological horror story” that will explore “cults, family and the dark side of human nature” across three decades. The title is being helmed by Brian Buccellato who has the chops to tell a wonderful story based off his current run with Detective Comics. However, Sons of the Devil #1 is just not there yet.
The initial hook doesn’t really hook you at all. Instead, it leaves you confused more than anything. Back in 1989, a man is telling a woman to bring two at a time, most likely referring to the kidnapping of newborn babies although it is unclear; like I said, confusing. It appears a security guard catches them in the act, although the guy doesn’t look like a security guard at all; he is wearing white overalls. A violent action sequence ensues where the woman is shocked at just how violent her partner in crime is. Buccellato then jumps to Venice, California in 2014 and we don’t really see anything of the people from 1989 the rest of the issue.
Once you get past the confusing hook, Buccellato dives into some heavy character development of the protagonist, Travis Crowe. Buccellato runs him through a number of different every day activities from helping a young boy find his way home to getting fired from his job for showing up late. You are able to sympathize with him as he is punished for acting out of the kindness of his heart.
Not only does Buccellato build the character through events in his life, but he also does it through his relationships with other characters. He has a rocky past with his step-brother who is trying to make amends and rekindle the brotherly love. While his primary relationship with his girlfriend shows his compassion, it also highlights his characters flaws.
Outside of the character development scenes, there are quite a few violently shocking scenes. Buccellato does not go into any detail into the motives for the violence and leaves it largely as a mystery. This is unfortunate because with a number one issue I want a hint at where the comic is going, and Buccellato doesn’t give you one.
Toni Infante’s artwork sets a grimy, dark tone from the first page using heavy shadowing to build tension and a sense of foreboding. He maintains a dark undertone throughout the book and accentuates it during the action and suspense sequences. Infante’s overall style is very rough and fits the tone where Buccellato wants to take the comic, although I don’t think that tone is fully realized until the last page. Infante uses a number of different panel layouts which keeps the book looking fresh and dynamic. His action sequences focus on the climax of the action and its result whether it is a massive headbutt or a wrench to the back of the head.
Is It Good?
Sons of the Devil #1 struggles where many number one issues struggle. It acts as a setup to the overall story arc rather than getting straight to the meat of the story. Buccellato’s dialogue was excellent as he was able to fully flesh out Travis Crowe’s character without using any internal monologues or in-your-face exposition. However, there were a number of typos specifically leaving out the word “to.” Toni Infante’s rough, gritty art style fits the tone Buccellato is attempting to capture and he keeps the panel layouts interesting with every flip of the page. As of right now, this book looks like one you will want to wait for the trade, but it does have a promising protagonist and plenty of mystery to make the second issue really capture “the psychological horror” it is being billed as.
Sons of the Devil hits stores May 27th.