Monday, February 16, 2015

Review - Hellbillies #1


"You never know what's out there."

It's bad enough when you're in the illegal activities field to deal with the law. It gets worse when you've got to contend with nosy individuals seeking to intervene as well. What is expected regardless is an entertaining story, similar to one in Hellbillies #1. The issue is written and lettered by Jon Westhoff, illustrated by Bryan Boles and colored by Sean Fagan.

Eustace and the boys stake out a fanatical group in the swamps in this fast paced first issue. In this line of work, it's often those without claws and fangs that do the worst things. To help someone in trouble, they'll need to contend with animals, the police and a slew of mysterious villains. The true start to the HB ride is here. It's a Hellbilly freak out, that's what it is! The road to hell leads south.

The United States deep south is something of an anachronism and it's the tone that Westhoff taps for Hellbillies #1. The story takes place in 1986, but it wouldn't be alarming if you were confused that maybe it happened even further back in time then that. With the setting established, Westhoff moves right into the world of Hellbillies #1, featuring characters who are pretty simple-minded, yet complex enough to run a moonshine ring. Their troubles with a local minister are seemingly for their illegal alcohol operation, even though there's something more sinister at hand that even they're not aware of. Westhoff does a good job working towards this reveal, primarily through the use of rather comedic dialogue and exchanges.

Another reason it's difficult to take the book seriously (in a good way) is the art style. Boles relies on a cartoonish art style that borders on the absurd in some ways, eschewing attention to proper anatomy and kinetics for a look that's more relaxed. It's a newspaper strip style that affords the reader the opportunity to follow along with relative ease, without losing sight of the broader strokes of inanity. Characters stand ready against multicolored backdrops and Fagan's palette feels bright enough to keep the tone lighthearted.

Hellbillies #1 is a pretty basic book that doesn't really try to pull any crazy reveals. It's also a book that knows what it wants to be and does it pretty well, blending a rather humorous tale with players who are entertaining when they follow through with it. Westhoff's script is simple yet efficient, effectively telling the story of southern bootleggers faced with a more sinister foe than just the law. The art style by Boles is amusing and lightens the tone of the book dramatically. Hellbillies #1 is a fun and less than serious issue that pokes fun at certain conventions while using them to its advantage.

Hellbillies #1 is available now via Comixology.

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