Review – Redlands #1 (Image Comics)

Publisher: Image Comics
Story / Creator: Jordie Bellaire, Vanesa R. Del Rey
Art / Cover: Vanesa R. Del Rey
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Lettering: Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 9th August 2017

Redlands, a brand new horror series from Jordie Bellaire, Vanesa R Del Rey and Clayton Cowles, hits shelves today with a tense, gripping opening issue which introduces us to the inhabitants of the titular Southern Florida town.  And right from the opening page featuring a burning tree and three empty nooses, this first chapter grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go for a second.

Bellaire, Del Rey and Cowles do a fantastic job of setting the scene in this first issue as we find ourselves thrust into a siege situation where the terrified Redlands County police force have barricaded themselves inside the station to try and protect themselves from their unseen assailants.  It’s a tense, claustrophobic affair, and as the stakes continually to raise over the course of the issue, it’s difficult not to find yourself drawn deeper and deeper into the situation you’re watching unfold.

What’s perhaps most interesting is the fact that as the issue progresses it becomes obvious that – with perhaps one notable exception – the officers aren’t particularly nice people, and clearly deserve a lot of what’s coming their way.  They come across as a racist, misogynistic bunch, and the derogatory tone they direct at both their supernatural assailants and at the prisoners in the basement ensure that our sympathies don’t stick with them for long.

Del Rey’s distinctive artwork feels tailor made for a story like this, with an impeccable grasp of visual pacing mixed with a scratchy, unsettling aesthetic that really helps to underscore the claustrophobic horror of the situation.  It’s a great looking book, but there are two utterly fantastic visual flourishes along the way that feel worthy of extra praise – one when an officer ventures outside for the first time, and the other on the way back up the stairs from the basement.   Trust me, you’ll know ‘em when you see ‘em.

The colours are also stunning, which should probably come as no surprise when you’re talking about the Eisner Award-winning Bellaire, arguably the best in the business today.  From the warm lick of the orange flames in the external scenes to the murky, oppressive browns of the basement prison, everything in this issue feels custom build to put the reader on edge.

It actually almost feels more like a prologue than a first issue – a tense, memorable introduction to the witches themselves as they make their presence felt at the expense of the utterly dislikeable Redlands police officers.  And while this opening chapter only vaguely hints at the promise to come once the witches actually take over the town, as emphatic statements of intent go, you’re really not going to find much better.  Scintillating stuff, and a new series that comes highly recommended.

Rating: 4.5/5.

If you want to find out more about REDLANDS, you can check out our interview with series writer Jordie Bellaire by CLICKING HERE.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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