Written by: Justin Jordan
Art by: Philip Tan
Published by: DC Comics
Reviewed by Simon “BlaxKleric” Moore
Announced by Justin Jordan whilst on the “New Age of DC Heroes” panel at New York Comic Con, the Pennsylvania-born author was quite correct in his assertion that his script for Issue One of “The Curse Of Brimstone” both looks and feels “much different than a lot of DC superhero titles.” For whilst the twenty-page periodical’s plot appears slightly reminiscent of the ‘naively sell your soul to the Devil’ narrative readers might expect from the “Colombia Pictures” “Ghost Rider” film franchise, this book’s writing is so realistically-detailed, so emotive and so engaging that it’s clear the publication’s creator is genuinely taking his audience on a very personal journey, rather than simply conjuring up some contrived circumstance with which to imbue Joe Chamberlain with his super-powers.
Foremost of these enthralling ‘hooks’ is the attention to detail which the Harvey Award-nominee lavishes upon his story-line’s central protagonist. Desperate “to save his small, forgotten town”, yet even more so to ensure that his sister finishes her Nursing qualifications and start’s “some place new”, the stark poverty of the disabled ex-factory worker’s son is absolutely palatable throughout this piece, and no more so than when he discovers his father has jeopardised his sibling’s future by foolishly handing over a portion of their meagre funds to a family friend who subsequently “damn near took off his leg this morning with a chainsaw.”
Similarly as enticing is Jordan’s suave, smooth-talking incarceration of the Devil himself. Polite, as well as infinitely amiable, the well-dressed car driver comes across with all the persuasive charm this series’ audience would anticipate from God’s fallen angel, and it certainly proves no surprise that the angrily frustrated young Chamberlain quickly falls for the archetype of evil’s befuddling discourse regarding the Home Office and making him their agent… Indeed, Officer Figard’s ability to resist the well-groomed man’s temptations earlier in the tale, makes the sheriff’s strength of will even more impressive upon reflection; albeit such a display quickly results in the lawman’s grim demise.
Enjoyably, all of this characterisation and exposition is rather well-pencilled by Philip Tan, whose work, despite arguably lacking the clean look of so many super-hero comic book contemporaries, still does an awfully good job of emphasising its horror-based themes. In addition, the occasional “Magic: The Gathering” illustrator seems to enjoy hiding the odd understated reference within the contents of some of his drawings, such as when Joe accepts a ride from the Devil and is carefully watched doing so by a snake concealed within the undergrowth or a sluggish lizard gazes at the youth’s ever-chugging truck unreliably starting-up. These subtleties really help add extra atmosphere to the proceedings of each panel, and also encourage any perusing bibliophile to pay far more attention to the artwork than normal.
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