Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Brian Buccellato
Artist: Toni Infante
Release Date: 27th May, 2015.
Sons of the Devil – a Kickstarter-funded project from New York Times Best Selling writer Brian Buccellato that has been picked up by the fine folks at Image Comics – sets out its stall impressively here with an utterly captivating opening issue. Following a powerful, visceral opening sequence, Buccellato settles down into a more character-driven affair, introducing us to Travis, quick-tempered but otherwise average man doing his best to get by. Gradually however, Buccellato starts to draw back the curtain on the larger world, giving us glimpses at the sinister and brutal nature of Travis’s family history.
Surprisingly, I actually learned a lot more about the upcoming direction of this particular series from the solicitation blurb than I did from the comic itself. From a narrative point of view, we’re still not entirely sure what Travis’s story is. Some of the pieces are there, but we haven’t been given enough information just yet for us to start piecing them all together. It’s a compelling mystery – or rather, it would be, so long as you don’t read any blurbs or solicitations about the book.
Buccellato does a fantastic job of introducing Travis during the course of this first issue, establishing his personality and rooting him in a sense of likeability – something almost at odds with his quick, violent temper. An orphan with anger management issues, Travis finds himself struggling to balance his job, his girlfriend and his burning desire to know more about his past, and as things gradually begin to unravel during the course of this issue, it’s difficult not to feel drawn into his struggles and become firmly invested in his future.
Bringing Buccellato’s impressively grounded script to life is the frantic, kinetic work of newcomer artist Toni Infante. Scratchy pencils convey the moments of tension beautifully, exploding into flurries of movement and splashes of crimson during the issue’s frequent violent outbursts. While Sons of the Devil doesn’t base its horror on monsters or the supernatural, Infante keeps the impact just as shocking with his expressive characters and wince-inducing violence throughout this first issue.
Overall, while the true nature of the story has yet to be revealed, this is an incredibly engaging opening issue with a strong protagonist and a grounded sense of realism that only adds to the creeping horror. In a genre that finds itself increasingly relying on schlock and monsters to hammer its point home, Sons of the Devil provides one of the most truly chilling opening chapters to a series that I can remember, and snatches your attention like a blunt force trauma to the temple. Highly, highly recommended.