Writer: Alex Link
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Release Date: 11th December 2013
The first issue of Drumhellar captivated me pretty much instantly with its creative premise and impressively hallucinogenic visual style. The second installment continues that trend, while also managing to throw a lot more interesting character development on top of this already impressive pile.
There’s a lot going on in this title, and the bizarrely compelling world that Rossmo and Link have created keeps the reader on edge with its unpredictable style and continually shifting tone. Main character Drum comes across a lot better in this second issue, and we get much stronger feel for him as a character here, catching glimpses of his innate sadness and an almost resigned attitude to the visions he’s being faced with, while still never losing sight of his infectious optimism and positivity. The guy is an enigma, and I get the feeling watching him develop issue by issue is going to be an absolute joy.
Writer Link clearly has a gift for natural sounding dialogue, and the exchanges between Drum and his ex-girlfriend are remarkably believable, a feat which is doubly impressive given the somewhat ‘out there’ nature of the story. He also knows when to bring the dramatic flair to proceedings, as evidenced by villain(?) Bubbles’ damning monologue directed at humanity.
Harold, Drum’s imaginary (or perhaps not-so-imaginary) friend gets a lot more time to shine here, adding some much-needed humour to the proceedings and livening up the panels as he contorts and twists around the human protagonists. Rossmo is clearly having a blast here, filling empty space with Harold’s ‘trail’ and even using him as a makeshift question mark on occasion to echo Drum’s own confusion. Rossmo’s extremely vivid colours add to the almost hallucinogenic feel of the comic, bringing an almost unnatural brightness to the proceedings, and he really allows this approach to cut loose during Drum’s hallucination scenes, giving these pages even more punch.
One of the neat touches to this title that I particularly enjoyed is the interesting nature of the background characters. I’m not talking about the supporting cast, but rather the voiceless ‘extras’ who find themselves occasionally pulled into focus for a single panel before being relegated to the background again. It gives the impression of a fully developed, thriving community, and there’s a general feeling that each and every one of these people has an interesting – and no doubt utterly bizarre – story to tell.
Drumhellar builds on its fine start with an extremely impressive second issue here, and the more I find out about the unusual inhabitants of this sleepy rural town, the more I want to know. Highly recommended.
The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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