Quick recap. Our hero, Travis, is an orphan, now 30ish, with one red and one blue eye, trying to live a normal life with his beautiful girlfriend Mel, but something is nagging at him – not knowing, being abandoned, why? This comes out in all kinds of violently negative ways: the hammer that is slowly tapping into the coffin where his current happiness may end up resting one . . . nail . . . at . . . a . . . time. So, he’s doing what he can, like group therapy led by the mysterious and malevolent Mr. Burton, who has his own sadistic goal which includes binding up and murdering people. We get to witness him weasel his way into Travis’ life with that freaking unnerving smile. Mr. Burton also has one blue and one red eye. Travis is keeping these trips to the therapist secret from his girlfriend – tap, tap, tap. The friend he had trying to figure out his past ended up dead – tap, tap, tap. And now, things get worse – tap, tap, tap.
Buccellato continues to broaden the playing field of this psychological mystery - this landscape of broken people - while leading us into the realm of a potential psychological horror mystery with this landscape of occult victims. (The comparison to No Country for Old Men begins to make a little more sense.) I wouldn’t blame Mel for running now – hear that, Mel? Run now! Travis isn’t just broken, he’s potentially inter-planar.
Buccellato briefly takes us back to 1989 in this issue (And, I’m going to stop and say right now that in my review of Issue #2, I guessed at why everything took place in the '90s. It doesn’t at all take place in the '90s. It takes place now; I may have somehow overlooked the title that took us to the PRESENT, which with cell phones in use should have been obvious.), and by taking us back, he lays some building blocks, some potential foundation that will make sense later, but whatever is going on, it is full-on engaging. With every issue I become more and more fully engaged. All this is to say the road bumps for Travis and Mel are getting bigger, and the mud Travis will have to walk through is getting deeper, like levels of Hell deeper.
Buccellato allows the information to trickle into our fields of knowledge, showing us just enough to keep our appetites whetted (How will all of this fit together?!), while spending most of his time developing the characters (so we want to know why all this will fit together). That makes this one of the only true character-driven books out there right now, and Infante’s art, once again, sells it with the power of Del Griffith selling shower curtain rings to bus travelers. Buccellato lets Infante’s art speak. It’s a visual medium, and they take full advantage of it. At every moment you know exactly how a character feels about something, and scrolling back through, I notice when Infante saturates the panels with blue and when he does it with red. There’s a lot of thematic work going on here, and in that there’s something very human and soulful about Infante and his relationship with the page. I look forward to following his work for years to come.
Do yourself a favor and pick up this comic.