Publisher: DC Comics
Storytellers: Philip Tan & Justin Jordan
Dialogue: Justin Jordan
Colours: Rain Beredo
Release Date: 4th April 2018
DC’s “New Age of Superheroes” has been, let’s be honest, a little hit-and-miss so far. Thankfully, in The Curse of Brimstone, the publisher has put together what is, for my money, its strongest new offering so far.
This is a slow burn (no pun intended) of an opening issue, with Jordan and Tan taking their time to introduce us to our protagonist Joe Chamberlain and the town he calls home. York Hills is like hundreds of other rural American towns dotted around the country, struggling to survive following the loss of its primary industry – in this case a coal mine – and ending up as nothing less than a trap for its younger generation who are forced to grow up without any skills, money or prospects.
Jordan’s writing is beautifully understated here, with a worrying believability to Joe’s situation as he tries desperately to help his sister escape their dead-end hometown. By the time we reach the final pages, we’re already fully invested in Joe and his hopeless situation, a fact which is really going to help the series as it unfolds.
Tan’s artwork is beautiful in its simplicity here, utilising his typically detailed, expressive style to really hammer home the mundanity of life in York Hills. With the exception of the scene which bookends the issue, everything is grounded in a demoralising reality that really helps to sell the premise of the story. The characters’ emotions are all relatively restrained too, with Tan wisely avoiding anything remotely resembling a cartoony or overly dramatic style that could easily derail the story.
An extra tip of the hat should also go to the colours of Rain Beredo who, much like Tan, keeps things under control for the most part before cutting loose in an utterly jaw-dropping fashion in the aforementioned ‘bookends’.
As with almost all superhero origin stories, there likely to be consequences that come along with Joe’s new found power, but with an opening issue that focuses mainly on the character himself, it’s not entirely clear how his story is going to progress. That’s all part of the appeal though, and if the final page is anything to go by, those consequences may not just impact Joe, but the other inhabitants of York Hills as well.
It’s going to be fascinating to see how the story unfolds and just how Joe is going to react to his new “powers”, but as introductions go, this first issue makes an incredibly strong first impression.
A well-balanced, emotionally involving first issue with a great protagonist and some striking artwork, The Curse of Brimstone is the undisputed high point of DC’s New Age of Superheroes, and I for one can’t wait to see where this new story leads.