Thursday, December 5, 2013

Review - The Bargain #1

"No real point in running..."

If you make a deal with the devil, odds are you have next to no chance in breaking it. It still won't stop someone from trying, regardless of the potential cost and what the person has to go through in order to be successful. Jackson Connolly is one such man in The Bargain #1 from Kerfuffle Press going through a rather harrowing ordeal. The issue is written by Kara Barrett, illustrated by JC Grande and colored by Fares Maese.

With only days left to break a pact for his soul, Jackson attempts one final, desperate gamble at salvation. It's a journey that will take him from the backwoods of ghostly Louisiana to the seductive lights of a 1950s New Orleans burlesque club. And the ride is rife with hellhounds, ghosts and hoodoo, not to mention a mix of even more of the supernatural.

When a story ventures into deep south and magic, things are gearing up to be very interesting. In fact, Barrett does an excellent job of keeping the dialogue snappy and in character even, tapping into the zeitgeist of both 1935 and 1955. There's an undercurrent of distrust and racism when Jackson visits Auntie, a ghost with a penchant for seeing evil and helping when she agrees with who exactly it is that needs help. And the premise behind the book is very powerful, in that Jackson makes a pretty big sacrifice to save someone he loves, yet is desperately seeking a way to break the deal. In that regard, it's very similar to Drag Me to Hell and the riding along with a character being chased by the hounds of hell looks to be a fun adventure.

Grande's illustrations are pretty meticulous, presenting characters and backgrounds that are fairly detailed and show an attention to the work. This isn't to say that it's an inspiration, but the characters do look a lot like those of Archer. Regardless, they match the style of the era they inhabit and really help the reader get into the feel of the book. Maese's coloring draws from the darker end of the spectrum, further bolstering the book's claim to a world of mediums, seers and ghosts. Speaking of ghosts, the ghosts are illustrated with an eerie sensibility and the hellhounds with an angry ferocity, both of which offers a full spectrum of what Jackson is dealing with.

The Bargain #1 is a bold, adventurous book that looks at how far one man will go to break a promise he made. The thing is, that promise meant giving up his soul and it's something he's pretty fond of and would love to keep if at all possible. Barrett's tale unfolds at a steady pace and keeps the reader engaged, while Grande lends some haunting visuals that helps set the mood for the story. It's a book that's different than a lot of other books out there, but that's a very good thing. In fact, it would even fit pretty comfortably in the Hellboy universe, as it has that strange sensibility to it. It's worth your attention and has a rather bleak--yet intriguing--ending that encourages you to check out the second issue.

The Bargain #1 is available now via Comixology.


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