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‘The Damned #5:’ Comic Book Review

If you haven’t been reading The Damned, you should be. If you haven’t been reading anything by Cullen Bunn, you should read it all. With The Damned, he takes his love of horror mythology and places it in the world of 1930s gangsters. In this world, demons are gang lords in bowlers, and dames sell their souls just to make it by. In the middle of all this is a cursed man, Eddie, who’s mixed up in this world in a big way. His best friend has stolen a key from some important demons to free his love from being cursed. Will Eddie help them or help his best interests?

This is the issue in which the microcosm shows there is a macrocosm - in which we find out that what the characters are currently fighting for is piddly compared to what actually might be going on, in which the story we’ve been following takes a hard left and may never come back. We’ve been in the comfort zone so far, and Bunn wants us to know that. Bunn doesn’t hit us over the head with the violent and grotesque. He tells his story, and he weaves in character dynamics and things that really emotionally resonate. This man spins yarns. He digs deep into the characters he writes about and wrings them dry.

Brian Hurtt’s art is wonderful. Bill Crabtree’s monochromatic tones create the film noir feel to perfection. It’s like you’re watching a film starring Humphry Bogart and directed by Howard Hawkes. The Damned is cinematic comic book storytelling at its best, all the way down to the quickly paced repartee.

One thing Bunn is good at is capturing a style. He recreates an authentic voice with every book he does. Here, it sounds like he’s inhabiting Raymond Chandler. It’s beautiful listening to the ebbs and flows, and I laughed out loud more than once at some of the best-written lines I’ve read in comics in a while. He doesn’t resort to crass, simple jokes. It’s freaking clever.

Do yourself a favor and read The Damned.

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