Thursday, March 17, 2016
Life in the old west was hard. Things we take for granted today like advances in medicine, travel and life in general just weren't there in the past. Mix into that the threat of the supernatural and things aren't much better. IDW Publishing blends together the rough and tumble western life with the supernatural in 3 Devils #1. The issue is written and illustrated by Bo Hampton and colored by Jeremy Mohler.
3 Devils #1 centers around a pact of vengeance sworn by a tragically orphaned Gypsy girl, an ex-slave with no soul, and a carnival freak billed as the Human Wolf. Gaining strength and courage from each other, they set off across the Old West — in search of the three hideous, inhuman entities that caused their torment and haunt their lives.
From the very first page the reader get a sense of uneasiness through Hampton's relatively dark script. The young orphan girl is a stoic main protagonist, but she has a strength about her that is buoyed by her newfound companion. Hampton relies on a tried and true set-up in terms of a highway robbery in an old west setting, but that's really about the only thing "normal" about the opening. There's a slow reveal for the remainder of the issue where Hampton pulls back the curtain on the level of supernatural at play. The tension is built up quite nicely by Hampton who offers up a relative slow burn to get to the end where it's clear this isn't your standard western tale.
Hampton's artwork is up to the task of maintaining the creepy atmosphere as well. There's an elegance to how he renders the characters that makes them feel fluid and realistic, inviting the reader to the side of the road to witness the horrors of the heist. The empty gutters further exacerbate the solitude of the encounter, as Hampton infuses the panels with a detached quality that promotes a quiet fear on the part of the assailants. Facial expressions show both sides of the encounter as both assailant and victim and gives the reader plenty to latch on to. Mohler's colors are largely muted and cover everything from a moonlit heist to an encounter in broad daylight.
3 Devils #1 is creepy without being outright scary. The union of the "heroes" by the end of the issue is one marred by convenience, but they're still better off together than apart. Hampton's script doesn't waste words and gets straight to the point, effectively establishing a mood along the way. His illustrations offer a subtly stated glimpse into a world that blends together the terror of monsters with sweeping western landscapes. 3 Devils #1 is a first issue that starts things off on an eerie note and only gets eerier from there.
3 Devils #1 is in stores now.