Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Jim Terry
Colourist: Sean Dove
Release Date: 28th January, 2015
And so we reach the conclusion of the first arc in Tim Seeley’s inventive dark superhero horror, Sundowners. Our delusional (or are they?) self-help superheroes are closing in on the mysterious threat that has plagued them as they attempt to rescue one of their own, Karl, from the clutches of “the Jubilant”. While some of the previous issues have faltered slightly by splitting up the team and forcing them each to forge their own path, the finale focuses instead on the Sundowners working together as a unit (or at least attempting to), and is all the better for it. The horror aspect of the book is pushed right to the foreground here as they attempt to infiltrate the Jubilant’s base of operations, leading to a brutal showdown that could have been ripped from the pages of any number of classic ‘monster’ comics.
Once again, Jim Terry’s artwork conjures up memories of the classic 70’s horror strips like Man-Thing or Swamp Thing, and contains several sly nods and homages to comics past – particularly during his impressively Millar-esque multi-panel opening page. Gloriously old-school but with a slightly modern twist, his action sequences are frantic and his layouts are sublime, with the scenes involving Karl trapped in his prison cell worthy of extra praise. It’s also worth mentioning the stellar job colourist Sean Dove does in recreating the slightly washed-out colours of this bygone era of comics. While some people will take a glance at this book and dismiss it as simply looking ‘dated’, this is actually an impressively structured visual recreation of a bygone age of comics, and creates a distinctive aesthetic that enhances the overall feel of the comic immensely.
The question we’ve all been asking since the very first issue – is the horrific, supernatural threat actually real, or just an intense shared delusion? – is answered emphatically here in a powerful scene where Doctor Shrejic shows exactly what kind of of person he really is, and somehow the resultant lack of ambiguity actually enhances the story rather than detracting from it. We’re no longer trying to figure whether these people are insane or not, something I was actually a little worried would render the story less compelling somehow. Well, nothing could be further from the truth, as the revelation actually adds more of a focus, more of an understanding to their exploits that should give the series all manner of material to work with as it moves forwards. Also, the very final word of this comic – delivered as part of another impressive Terry splash page – sums everything up perfectly.
It’ll be interesting to see what direction Seeley takes things in the second arc, but with such brilliantly developed and multi-layered characters already in place, I can’t see it being anything other than an overwhelming success. The flawed, vulnerable protagonists that have been created are each worth of individual praise, but it’s their interactions that really make this series come together. From Crowlita and her brash, profanity-laced outbursts, to the simmering sexual tension between Joe and Andrea, to my personal favourite, Shrejic himself, with his curious ways and mysterious secrets, this is an immaculately structured series with a brilliant premise at its core. One of the cleverest takes on both the horror and superhero genre that I’ve seen for quite some time, Sundowners is a series that I honestly can’t recommend highly enough.