Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Writer: Shawn Aldridge
Artist: Scott Godlewski
Release Date: 11th May, 2016
After finally tipping their hand in the previous issue and showing us the true nature of the horror which is stalking Iris and his family, Shawn Aldridge and Scott Godlweski somehow manage to outdo themselves here as that very horror comes a’ callin’.
While it may not quite have the same emotional gut-punch of the previous issue, this latest chapter allows artist Godlewski to finally slip his leash and show us what he’s really capable of. Sure, the shadowy hints and recurring ‘black feather’ motif of the first three issues were undoubtedly chilling, but DEAR GOD were we completely unprepared for seeing Ayah’s true self in all its glory. Seriously, folks. Wow.
With every issue that passes, Godlweski continues to cement his position in my “must-watch artist” list, and his work here is easily his best of the series so far. From Iris’s quiet resignation as he leaves Elijah’s shack puffing on a cigarette to the panel where Aaya appears at Iris’s home — perhaps the closest thing that a comic book can have to a “jump-scare” — Godlweski absolutely knocks it out of the park from start to finish here, ably assisted by the soft, haunting colours of Patricia Mulvihill.
Crucially, Aldridge continues to paint Iris as an utterly relatable leading man here; not too bright, not a particularly good or a particularly bad guy, just a man trying to the best he can for his family. The guilt over his previous actions – or should that be inaction – is clearly eating him up inside, even without his apparent P.T.S.D., and now that he finally seems to have pieced the whole twisted puzzle together, it’s still unclear just what the hell he’s going to do about the situation he himself is directly responsible for.
Over the course of the last issue and a half, THE DARK & BLOODY has gradually shifted from a tense, unnerving rural horror to something altogether more in-your-face, with one of the most gruesomely unsettling antagonists in a long, long time (seriously… the beak!). While it may ask some intriguing moral questions about blame, responsibility and consequences, at the end of the day this is pure horror through and through, and can easily stand shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the very best in the genre right now. Highly recommended, yet again.
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