In Netherworld the characters live their lives in Limbo. Kane, however, has taken over Limbo and made it impossible for the populace to atone for their transgressions. Kane has turned Limbo into a vice ridden reflection of our own world, and the being in charge appears to be out fishing. Except, there may be hope in the form of Madeline. Hired by a mysterious woman named Alexis, troubleshooter Ray must see to Madeline’s safety as they make it to the Station. To aid him in his quest, Alexis has given Ray true sight. Now, he can see what even his closest comrades look like.
Netherworld takes the narrative form of a Black Mask-styled hardboiled detective story. Ray is the tainted knight traveling the mean streets. He is the paladin hired to protect the lady in distress by untrustworthy parties. The third issue of Netherworld acts as the turning point in the novel where the hero must face a sad truth, but writers Hill and Levin also take some unusual twists as one might expect give the subject matter.
Since Ray can see the truth about people like his contact Strohman, and the truth doesn’t set him free, he can also see the truth about Madeline. The truth doesn’t scare him. She appears to be as she is and not the strangely flickering fractured souls or a outright demonic creature. This might indicate that Alexis was on the up and up, and there is hope to fight Kane and restore Limbo.
The reclaiming of Limbo is fraught with danger, and Ray isn’t always there to fight demons. Fortunately, Madeline is more than capable when protecting herself and Ray, which makes one wonder who is exactly the paladin in the story. Is Madeline truly in danger, or is she in fact the protector of Ray, who may be the real hope for Limbo? There’s a lot of ways this story can play out. Alexis just may be the arch chessmaster and setting up Kane for a massive fall.
While the twists can take the story in multiple directions, the artwork by Tony Shashteen and colorist Dave McCaig is rock solid awesome. Whether they’re illustrating the unique faces that appear in the story, the realistic expressions that often vary in degrees, the beauty of a woman or the ugly of a demon, the violence from an angel or the attack of a devil, the artists craft an amazing feast for the eyes against the backdrop of a rich, colorful neon washed city. Netherworld is something to be remembered.
Ray Tate’s first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, “Spider Without a Web,” published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups. In the POBB, as it was affectionately known, Ray reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he’s young at heart. Of course, we all know better.