Writer: Joshua Dysart
Artists: Pop Mhan (p), Art Thibert & Jake Crippen (i)
Okumura Ame's newfound possession by the Demon Etrigan leads her from one scene of gory mayhem to another at breakneck pacing. Yet, amid the wild gunplay and speeding chase scenes, a crucial mystery remains; why has the Demon been driven out of its long-time host, Jason Blood? The disastrous results of this ritual are clearly revealed in blood and bullets, but the enigmatic reasons behind it are still to be revealed.
For now, the story winds its mad way through a tortuous racetrack of violence and horror amid the dark streets and sun-drenched beach houses of Los Angeles. Ame is no longer in control of her destination; Etrigan has the steering wheel and he doesn't brake for anything.
"Ame, I can't live in a world where what I just saw happens."
The premise of this issue revolves around the exploration of horror and madness. On the obvious level, there is the radical disruption of Ame's life when the Demon makes its unwholesome presence known, be it through physical manifestation or through invading her dreams. Suddenly, her orderly existence, timed down to the second, is road kill. The sanctity of her mind has been violated, and that's the small stuff. The Demon waits beneath her consciousness, ready to arise in a moment to leave carnage in his wake.
Equally apparent is the violence of totally human origin. Though the Demon has initiated the havoc, the sole responsibility lies not only in its hellish hands. Ame's world of criminals, drug dealers, and hoodlums makes for a lush playground for Etrigan's malevolence. So callous of the consequences of their violence, their inhumanity forms a sharp complement to the Demon's infernal verse.
Yet, there are other issues at stake here. Ame's sense of self, her feelings of helplessness, and her spiritual isolation claw through her psyche with as much perniciousness as the violence and weirdness that has recently exploded in her life. These psychological fissures threaten to split under the pressure of Etrigan's presence. How will she come through this experience? Will she succumb to the madness and oblivion that the Demon represents? That's the story which is unfolding here. And it's being told with amazing pacing, characterization, and compelling mood.
The artwork is exquisite. The composition is superb in driving both pace and mood. In quiet scenes, the panels are balanced and full, but, when things go wild, they become jagged and slanted with figures crossing the borders at crucial dramatic points. The stances and facial expressions of the characters are genuine and vivid. The colors and inking are also deft at establishing the dramatic weight of the scene, from the surreal greenish swirls of Ame's dream to the sharp orange punctuations of the gunfire.
This issue is an impressive work of "moral fable" storytelling. Dysart has taken the basic thematic elements of the Demon and integrated them into a new and exciting tale about a young woman with a love for reckless thrills to fulfill the emptiness and constraint of her everyday life. The symbolism and thematic development found in this story are powerful and captivating. This is a serious work of literature, which even those who could care less for the Demon or "capes" in general will find to be a breathtaking read.
However, this is a "horror" comic. It's not light reading; the pedal's on the floor when it comes to violence and gore.
I highly recommend this issue.
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