R.I.P.D.: City of the Damned #2 (December – 2012 – Dark Horse)

R.I.P.D.: City of the Damned #2

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.

Next Time: The Walking Dead #1

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R.I.P.D.: City of the Damned #1 (November – 2012 – Dark Horse)

R.I.P.D. City of the Damned #1

Peter Lenkov creation R.I.P.D returned in 2012 with the 4 part series: City of the Damned, a horror/detective story about Roy Pulsifer and his partner Nick Walker, two dead peace officers who find themselves in a place where they must battle demons and robots and all manner of nasty things. Roy soon learns they are dead (and have been for a while). Being dead however, becomes their greatest asset as they join the Rest In Peace Bureau; a bureau tasked with ensuring the dead all face God’s judgment. Not an easy task when you realize this means all creatures, including demons and the sort.

Cowboys and demons is just a great combination, like whiskey and cigars, beans and rice, coffee and well, more coffee. Roy is the old-time western marshal who has great one-liners and lets his six-guns do most of the talking. He is the older of the two and therefore the leader, at times sacrificing himself to protect the younger Nick. In this mini-series, we don’t really get much time with Nick as Roy leaves him behind to face “something… I should’ve dealt with a long time ago…,” a hundred years ago actually. Teaming up with a Samurai and a Religious Crusader by the name of Crispin Mather, Roy is tasked with finding and apprehending the evil that has taken over Black Pool.

Being a 4 part mini-series, the Story is painted with broad strokes and issue #1 cuts straight to the chase. For this reason alone, I am a big fan of the mini-series. What they lack is the back-story filler that so many editors use to try and steer story arcs with; eventually falling into the retcon trap and confused readers. There is a great story to tell here and the writer/editor did a good job of it.

Pencils and inks are handled by Tony Parker (Boom Comics: Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Warhammer 40K: Fire and Honor, as well as work on Dark Horse Comics Robert E. Howard’s Savage Sword). His style is quite nice and the fact that he was given 32 pages to illustrate the script means there are no crowded pages. The colors by Michelle Madsen are a bit mono-chromatic and pretty standard horror-comic sepia but still manage to keep us in in the proper mood throughout.

The reason Dark Horse has revisited this title is that on January 28 2012, film director Robert Schwentke finished filming the screen adaption of said comic. Starring Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds as Roy and Nick (respectively), the movie co-stars Mary Louise-Parker and Kevin Bacon. I have to say, I’ll watch anything with Jeff Bridges (still “The Dude” to me) and Kevin Bacon has become bad guy-supreme. My greatest hope is this movie will help erase the bad memory of that Jonah Hex movie from my mind. Western horror is an under developed movie sub-genre and one I personally love. If you are unexposed, you owe it to yourself to at least watch Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (1966) or Jesse James meets Dracula’s Daughter (1966). Some other entries in this sub-genre worth a watch are The Burrowers (2008) and Aces and Eights (2008).

All four issues of this 4 part mini-series are currently available. The series is scheduled to be published as a TPB on May 22 2013 from Dark Horse Comics.

Next Time: Baltimore: The Widow and the Tank

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