I didn’t really consider the ramifications of the title after reading the first issue of Sons of the Devil, but after reading issue two and feeling the world naturally expand, it occurs to me that this story isn’t about one potential bad seed son (though the story focuses on one thus far) but is about more than one bad seed – Sons. A silly thought, but one that gave me a shiver, and it wouldn’t have given me a shiver if creators Brian Buccellato (Detective Comics) and Toni Infante weren’t handling their story with such a nice edge of unnerving, psychological subtlety. Essentially, this is a psychological drama wrapped in a mystery of potential mystical elements, so that’s a big bonus.
The key son is an orphan who has diligently been looking for his parents. He has an interesting physical quirk – one eye is blue, the other is red. He spends most of his time wearing sunglasses. He’s also attempting to create some kind of normalcy in his life by moving in with his girlfriend in Venice, California. I’m not sure why the story is set in 1989, maybe there was some notion of this in the first issue that I can’t remember. Maybe it’s because it was before the worldwide internet existed, when information wasn’t so easily accessible. I digress . . .
Our orphan is one of the central figures of a murder investigation. The person seeking his parents for him was killed. A visit from the Detective and curiosity from his girlfriend (both nicely written characters) into what his deceased friend found pushes our hero a little deeper into the web. Meanwhile, two other men with red/blue eyes circle the story and (secretly) our character. Their motivations don’t seem on the up and up, but their presence is unsettling.
As an artist Infante does an extremely effective job at heightening these haunting undertones. He focuses on the eyes – really making sure their color stands out on the page, showing fear, intensity like not a lot of other artists out there do right now – he captures something deeper simply by doing this. I have the image of a woman in the first few pages of issue two, her big, brown eyes staring fearfully engrained in my head. Then, there are the smiles. One of our red/blue-eyed wonders has the most terrible facial expressions. I don’t know how anyone could possibly ever trust him.
Buccellato, while I found portions of his first story arc in the recent Detective Comics: Icarus to be teetering on the edge of convoluted, he’s a strong storyteller who trusts his artists to move the story along without filling in every detail with obvious dialogue that doesn’t add anything. He’s also outstanding at dealing with themes. Here, truth seems to be on the menu. What is truth, is it different for all of us depending on our perspectives? Or is there just one truth that we all need to open ourselves up to, no matter how much it sucks. I guess we’ll find out just how deep our hero’s truths will go – I imagine things have only just begun to suck for him.
The only other book on the market I’ve read that is similar to this is Outcast. Both are stories about complicated people trying to figure out why they were born the way they were. Both are intelligent dramas before anything else and use very different genres to bring their mysteries to life.