Writer: Geoff Johns and Kris Grimminger
Artist: Liam Sharp
Well this is finally starting to pay off. The first two issues of this title have been a strange combination of homage and rip-off to demonic possession movies and stories, complete with stereotyped characters and over-simplified motivations. The art has been good, but displays a tendency toward cheesy costuming and sketchy detail work. By sketchy detail work I mean that the heavy linework and reliance on cross-hatching textures used in the inks sometimes gives the art an over-worked feel that doesn’t serve anything but Sharp’s own stylistic approach. The actual detail in the panels is usually very intricately done and looks very good. I’d just like to see normal clothes and body-types for the main characters to make them more approachable and believable.
Regardless of all that, I’ve stuck with this book because there are some good ideas floating around the pages; they just needed time to coagulate and form into a story. Last month’s cliffhanger ending, where the group’s leader (another cliché: his name is Christian) purposely didn’t guard himself, invited demonic possession, and then disappeared, kick started my sputtering interest. This month we find that big things are happening in Iron Wood, Michigan, where a little Jewish girl named Sierra is “sick.” Of course, we know what that means. There’s a demonic stowaway on board. Her father, an ex-wrestler by the looks of him, not knowing what else to do has summoned a priest. I guess the rabbi was busy. After some obnoxious and condescending banter from the good father Christian arrives, claiming to be representing the group. This is where we learn, albeit rather awkwardly, that Christian might have a history with the demon that inhabits Sierra. The rest of the group are on their way, though, having been called by the obnoxious priest, and it is when our focus is on them that we find out the true magnitude of what is going on.
There is a lot of good stuff in this issue, character-wise, and the artwork really helps to carry the emotional impact of the events. For nearly two whole pages we sit and worry along with Sierra’s father with virtually no dialogue and yet we can still feel the anxiety in every panel. The crew themselves are also doing some soul-searching, and Holly’s father has a very nice page devoted to his reasons for being involved with the team. Again, maybe it’s just me, but I would feel more involved with these people if the men weren’t all giant muscle-bound Matrix-costumed action junkies and the women weren’t all busting out of their tops (what tops they wear – mostly it’s bikini tops and cut-off t-shirts, so far). If I were just flipping through the book, I probably wouldn’t find much of interest in the heroes, and be much more interested in the demonic entities that pop up here and there. Although, to be honest, their designs aren’t really all that exceptional either. Their horrific aspect seems to rely mainly on what looks like melting flesh, glowing eyes, claws and the ever-popular ability to twist their heads completely around. But I will admit, this last ability is used to good effect on the last page of this issue and again, has me looking forward to the next installment, almost against my will.
There’s a really good book inhabiting this one and it shows itself a few pages at a time. I don’t want to push this metaphor much further, but maybe Johns and Grimminger should consult a priest and do something about freeing up this story. It’s definitely worth a shot; especially if you like horror, dark shadowy art, and big boobs.
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