In this second issue of the 4 part mini-series, Ray and Crispin Mathers are on their way to Black Pool, a town that has gotten the attention of R.I.P.D. Writer Jeremy Barlow starts this one out with some action, as Roy Pulsifer tries to board a mysterious train, only to be attacked by a smoke demon in an attempt to stop them from going to Black Pool.
It is here that a religious struggle begins between the two. Crispin, the crusader, is firm in his belief of the Christian God he fights for but Roy presents a more egalitarian and agnostic ideal. His past transgressions seem to have tainted his zeal for religion. Still, in order to do this job, he must know that the crusader is at least partially correct in his beliefs and he just about says as much.
Artist Tony Parker goes to great lengths to illustrate the vast openness of the old west, with long horizons and impressive mountain scenes. The two are on horseback and this lends to some pretty spectacular vistas with wide open spaces in airy panels. I feel that the book could use a little more color. Kind of washed out and bland, Michelle Madsen’s color palette is out dated and stale.
When they finally reach Black Pool, Tony Parker changes gears to cramp the panels and give a sense of claustrophobia to the heroes. Black Pool turns out to be a strange and overly inviting town. The denizens all have an automaton-like way and every conversation ends with them urging the two up to the old mine. This is illustrated with strange angles of character interaction and reminiscent of the films of Sergio Leone. There is a nice little twist when Roy realizes that in order to be here among the living, he is in a different body.
It quickly becomes apparent to the pair that something odd is happening at the old mine and they set off to investigate. What they find there is something of ancient evil (no surprise here since we were told in issue 1 that the mine under Black Pool contained an ancient evil). It is here that Tony Parker shines. He pencils/inks some rather gruesome monsters that are saved for the end of the issue to keep you coming back.
Roy Pulsifer is an interesting character, plain spoken and tough like the movie cowboys we all love. There is a nice subtext happening here between Roy and Crispin that carries the otherwise lifeless plot (you see what I did there?) along in this horror comic.
R.I.P.D. – THE CITY OF THE DAMNED is available now from Dark Horse Comics.