There are certain rides we all know that we shouldn’t take – strangers with big vans, the cab without lights, some lady with a Jesus fish and beads on the seats – but some rides will really be your last. The Greeks had Charon to ferry souls across the Styx to the afterlife, Disney made a pretty penny off of giving Davey Jones and the Flying Dutchman a similar task, and now Simon Birks, RH Stewart, Lyndon White, and Dan Thorens at Blue Fox Comics present the last thing that some jerks will ever need: hope.
That intro above cribs a bit from the story, but they do it with fancy Nietzche quotes and lots of loaded metaphor, but it’s a fun bit to play with. Hope is a girl who’s met her end and is now tasked to bring it to others through the marvels of Detroit’s finest. There’s a lot of mystery that Birks wants to work with here, with the feeling of not knowing what’s going on seeming to be paramount; however, the description on the back cover is the only solid lead we have on what precisely is going on, and it muddles things a bit for me. It reads like the pitch for the book but throws the mystique of the narrative in a bit of an odd limbo, as now I’m not sure what, as a reader, I’m supposed to know. Beyond that bit of oddness, the story holds a lot of promise. There’s a fun fatality to the script that echo moments of American Gods; it’s got a macabre sensibility that gives of a “run with it” vibe. Issue #1 leaves many questions for us, giving us a setup but not really taking us anywhere, but Issue #2 fulfills on the premise, and we see that Hope’s not just pulling up to carcasses, but may be a touch more active in her gathering of souls. Neither she nor we get many answers, but it seems that Birks has something good up his sleeve that ought to be worth the wait.
Stewart has a cinematic style that makes the book feel a bit like Reservoir Dogs, a sort of psuedo-noir that yields to the moodiness of the plot. It conveys a sense of being in between, a transporter of the damned who will always be
moving. The car seems to have gotten the most love in design, as it’s a much a character as any of the people that we meet. There’s a big difference between leaving empty space and drawing emptiness. Stewart fills his pages with the latter type of nothing, letting the void push on you, make you hope (heh) that something new will come to break the tedium. It’s a clever device that really helps to sell the mystery of everything going on. I have to give a shout-out to Lyndon White on the first issue’s cover; it’s really engaging and very well composed.
I’m not entirely sure what to make of this story just yet, but the promise is certainly there. I’ll be interested to see how the arc plays out before I can decide, but if you dig getting the creepy-crawlies from an atmospheric jaunt through an angsty wasteland, then you’ll enjoy what this one has to offer.
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