American Gothic Press 2015
Written by Steve Niles & Philip Kim
Illustrated by Piotr Kowalski
Coloured by Dennis Calero
Lettered by Marshall Dillon
When the trail to William Forrester Jr. ends in a secret underground complex, Barrymore discovers that John Price isn't the only one hiding his true identity. The whole dark history of World Studios comes to light in a final confrontation with cult leader Boser Geist. Will history ever know the truth?
This has been one of the best introductions to a series that i’ve had the pleasure to read. The whole concept that monsters are real and World Studios has been keeping a dark secret all this time has really brought back a classic horror movie franchise feel. Not only that but the character of Barrymore as the typical private Dick has been exceptionally portrayed.
Not only that but Barrymore’s past in the war as it was revealed throughout this story showcases that it was no accident that he was chosen by Shirley. Yes he had the dame and yes he’s solved the mystery but at what cost? With his friend Buck in the know what we do have moving forward is that this isn’t the last we’ll see of Henry Barrymore P.I. So let’s talk about the final issue in this run now shall we.
As Henry gets to see what’s what for himself and has to take it all in the sense of what Piotr brings the story is so beautiful. All these creatures locked up down below just really evoke the nightmares of the old world. He also is incredibly in sync with Steve and Philip too as we finally get to see Billy. The tension and startled look on Henry’s face just serve as a reminder that this is the kind of storytelling that we’ve missed as society has “moved forward” and lost touch with what was.
With all kinds of incredible dialogue and revelations that come here it’s easy to see that the outcome had to be the way it went. Though while Shirley may have been lost to Henry i’m not sure that’s the end of her story. I could be wrong, i’ve been wrong before but I just get the feeling that she’s not gone for good. Still as Billy tells Henry the tale of what he’s done and why that only scratches the surface of what’s been going on here. There’s still so much left to explore and while Billy made a deal with the devil there are still those who know that are running around.
Piotr is one the truly underrated and not so well known artists around. His work on Sex and now here have firmly cemented the fact that he’s one of today’s greats. His people are amazingly realistic and even the monsters have that authentic feel, yes of days gone by when you thought everything was men in rubber suits. His eye for storytelling through the use of pages and panels is extremely impressive. Plus the fact that this feels like that throwback to an age where men and women actually dressed to leave the house shouldn’t be overlooked.
This is just what i’m hoping is the first story in a series of mysteries that Henry Barrymore will be undertaking. He knows now that everything the legends and myths talk about exist and he’s confronted them and lived to talk about it.
This is the kind of series we need, classy, intelligent and full chills and thrills.