Vertigo Comics 2018
Written by Bryan Hill
Illustrated by Leandro Fernandez
Coloured by Dean White
Lettered by Pat Brosseau
Richard Wright is a white-passing African-American FBI agent operating in a white-nationalist gang, and his mission to solve the murder of a fellow agent is already going off the rails. While Richard’s target, the industrialist Wynn Morgan, discovers some potentially deadly dissension in the ranks, Richard is challenged by Morgan’s rebellious thugs to prove his loyalty to the movement in the most dangerous way possible.
Social commentary aside there are a number of things going on in this book that I absolutely love. Bryan’s ability to craft, create and bring characters to life is so amazing to me. What we see him doing here both overtly, in your face and loud, or subtlety with the small moments we see but don’t necessarily pay attention to, all of this really makes this such a fantastic read. While I know Bryan wants to concentrate on film and television in the new year but this gift that he has I wish he’d continue with in this medium.
The way this is structured is utterly sensational as we open here with Richard having been taken to the compound and then left to his own devices (I was a lonely boy, no strength, no joy, In a world of my own). There is so much to like about this aside from the obvious fact that he’s being tested by them. He is no pushover and yes he’s damaged, probably as much as those currently around him, so it’s as much about his strength of character as anything else. The set-up and execution of what we are seeing here is so well done and it captures you with this intensity that doesn’t let go, it also lasts through the entire issue and well past it.
There are a lot of characters that we see here with very distinct personalities and all of them seem to have their own agenda. These agenda’s don’t mesh with one another either so what this does is open up a myriad of avenues that can be explored. That we see them could mean a couple of things and I wouldn’t put it past Bryan to show some as misdirection or a smoke screen for something else. Still here I am taking what could be or other possibilities that aren’t even remotely in play but Bryan has engaged my mind in such a way that I am excited for everything that is possible.
The interiors here are definitely interesting. There is a mix attention to detail with more abstract or purposeful lack thereof. The shadowy world this takes place in is at times literal in the work and it’s well done to the point of almost changing the whole tone of the book. I don’t know if it’s intentional but the Noir and Horror elements that we see because of how moments are presented visually are gripping to say the least. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels shows off a very solid eye for storytelling. The utilisation of backgrounds is wonderfully done. Then Dean’s colour work as I've mentioned involving the shadows and the light we see behind it can really elevate those moments as incredibly creepy and it’s mad good stuff.
Sheila sigh. She’s a woman on a mission and it makes her inpatient and angry and it’s putting stress on her body, not to mention my nerves, so we’ll see how this all plays out with her but she’s way too high strung right now. She’s the wild card in my book and we need to watch her and hope she doesn’t do something stupid while Richard’s undercover which is entirely all too possible. Again I am seeing way beyond what’s on the page and it doesn’t matter where in the book you are you’ll do that time and time again.
This is a brilliantly done thriller top to bottom. The writing is utterly phenomenal and the interiors are oddly compelling making this one of those unexpected sure fire hits for the new year!