Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Jim Terry
Colorist: Sean Dove
Release Date: 11th March, 2015 (Digital Exclusive)
With the first arc of Dark Horse Comics’ criminally underrated Sundowners wrapping up in style, I couldn’t help but find myself wondering just how this book would be able to maintain its momentum now that the big question hanging over the series – namely, are our main characters actually superheroes or are they just mentally ill? – has finally been answered. Well, I’m not actually sure why I was ever concerned, because Seeley and co. managed to ease my doubts within the first few pages of this issue, introducing us to a deeply unnerving new ‘villain’ (complete with equally disturbing henchmen) and allowing us catch up with our titular heroes as they continue to try and lay low from the Chicago Police Department.
Once again, the lead characters themselves – and their interactions with one another – are the main driving force behind this book. Five brilliantly created, utterly flawed individuals, each with their own unique neurosis and character ‘tics’, but each also strangely likeable in their own way. The Sundowners may look at themselves as heroes, but in reality they’re basically a group of borderline schizophrenics with a list of mental problems as long as your arm, and the back and forth banter they share with one another remains a true testament to the sharpness of Seeley’s writing. The humour is cranked up a notch here, taking advantage of the brief respite before the team’s next ‘adventure’, and giving my personal favourite – Doctor Shrejic – even more of a chance to shine. One particular scene where Shrejic calls an emergency meeting to assess their situation is borderline hilarious, as the various Sundowners quickly fall back into their familiar routines.
The artistic partnership of Jim Terry and Sean Dove continue to give this book a gloriously old-school, Watchmen-esque appearance. Terry’s panel layouts are masterful, and the character design of the new villains is absolutely top-notch – one masked accomplice in particular. Dove keeps the colours simple and more than a little washed-out, giving the whole book an early 70’s horror vibe, and Terry’s slightly exaggerated facial expressions give the story some additional punch, particularly with his wide-eyed, exasperated and shell-shocked Shrejic.
One thing I will say, though – while this issue is being billed by Dark Horse as a “perfect jumping-on point”, I’d actually be inclined to disagree. Yes, this is the beginning of a fresh arc, but new readers are likely to be confused by the ‘gimmick’ behind the series and Sundowners themselves, potentially thinking that this is just another of the ‘dime a dozen’ superhero titles that hit the shelves (or the digital platform) every week. To that end, I’d highly recommend anyone thinking of picking up this series to delve into the first six issues beforehand – if for no other reason than to experience the sheer greatness of the world that Seeley, Terry and Dove have created
While Sundowners may have inexplicably failed to achieve the commercial success it clearly deserves, this is a series that’s simply too good to be ignored, and deserves to be seen by as many eyes as possible. A brilliantly inventive take on the superhero genre, with horror, sci-fi and comedy elements thrown in for good measure, Sundowners was easily one of my favourite series’ of late 2014, and looks poised to continue that trend into the beginning of 2015. Get on it!