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REDLANDS #1 is a Beautiful New Small-Town Horror Comic (Review)

REDLANDS #1 is a Beautiful New Small-Town Horror Comic (Review)

When it’s done right, small-town horror is the best horror. There’s something about it that makes you feel totally helpless–cut off from anything and everyone that could possibly save you. Jordie Bellaire and Vanesa Del Rey capture these feelings perfectly in the first issue of Redlands. There’s no hope on the page, only the inescapable sense of terror and doom. It’s a truly stunning first issue that will leave you begging for more.

redlands_01_cover

Redlands #1 from Image Comics

The story starts at what seems like the end of a classic horror tale. The police force of a small town is barricaded in the jailhouse. Whatever is outside has them scared to death. There had been an attempt at a lynching and things obviously did not pan out the way these small town bigots had hoped. From there, Redlands gets bloody and terrifying. It plays out like a climax, with death and violence slowly overtaking everyone involved.

Starting Redlands like this is a neat trick on the part of Jordie Bellaire and Vanesa Del Rey. Typically, in a tale like this, we’d see all the terrible acts these men committed and the violence we witness would seem almost justified. The brutality is considerably more shocking because we didn’t witness the events prior to this. Sure, we can guess, but we don’t know who “deserves” to have their head severed or their body torn to pieces. Clearly, these are bad men, but you don’t start off cheering on their punishment. It makes the whole situation that much scarier.

Bellaire is quickly becoming the most prolific figure in the comic industry. Her work has a colorist is well known and rightfully celebrated. With Redlands, she proves she is also a brilliant writer. The structure and pacing of this issue are spectacular. Jordie Bellaire is slowly taking over the industry and comics may be better off for it.

Vanesa Del Rey’s artwork is perfectly suited for this sort of horror. She’s a competent and smooth storyteller, no doubt, but her scratchy, frantic style make the terrors of Redlands feel unsettled and chaotic in the best possible way. The way the violence flows and characters stumble will leave you on the edge of your seat. This issue is always in motion, always gushing like an open wound. You feel every slash, every bullet, and every burn. It’s brutal but graceful, almost elegant. This is a damn good-looking comic book, in other words.

Horror fans need to pay attention to Redlands. Hell, everybody needs to pay attention to Redlands–it’s freaking fantastic any way you cut it. Add this book to your pull list right away. You don’t want to miss the darkness that is unfolding here. Trust us.

Rating: 5 out of 5 burritos

5-burritos1

Image: Image Comics

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