Review - The Scourge #3

The fact that NYC is the city that never sleeps is a double-edge sword because there are so many people on the island that it's a prime candidate for an outbreak that will rapidly spread. The Scourge #3 is the third issue of a series from Aspen Comics that offers a new outbreak for New York City to deal with. The series was actually created by Gale Anne Hurd, a well known and regarded producer whose most recent work on The Walking Dead has garnered the show tons of critical acclaim. She teamed up with writer Scott Lobdell and illustrator Eric Battle (colors by David Curiel and letters by Josh Reed) to bring to readers the new "scourge" of New York. The third issue continues the trials of NYPD police officer John Griffin, a fifteen year veteran of SWAT now faced with said scourge.

This issue centers around Griffin's quest to find his son Jonathan. Inevitably, right as he finds him he's faced with a slew of the "scourge" themselves; basically creatures that share characteristics with vampires but have the appearance of gargoyles. The gargoyles came back with Griffin's friend Peter Newburgh and it seems that the more people infected the faster it spreads. By the time Griffin gets to the theater to find his son the entire island is swarming with the gargoyles, leading Griffin to do what he does best: mow the enemies down with extreme prejudice and heavy weapons. With the help of Jono's teacher, Ali Cullen, the trio make their way to the streets of NYC in hopes of finding safety.

The premise of The Scourge is fairly tired and played out. Infection spreads and threatens to take over the world by starting in one of the most populous cities in the world, leading the military to plan on essentially nuking the island in containment. I don't hold that against the comic's creators though simply because they've put a fresh take on it. It hasn't explicitly been said that the creatures are in fact gargoyles, but they definitely look like them. It will be interesting if they are because it will be another fresh take on vampires at least because, presumably, the gargoyles will turn to stone when the slumber. This will lead to a neat vulnerability that could give Griffin and co. hope to fight back the scourge. I don't know that this is definitely where the comic is going, but at the very least it's an interesting direction.

Lobdell isn't doing anything too original with the story (see above) but he does do a good job in humanizing Griffin. Yes, he's big and yes, he's something of a badass. It's nice to see though that he's going through a divorce, fighting for custody of his son and really being most concerned about Jono more than anything. I could see a romance forming between Griffin and Ali in future issues, but that's just purely speculation on my part. Battle's illustrations are highlighted by almost harsh bold, black lines, that really add to the grittiness of New York City being inundated with swarms of infected. There are tons of action sequences in the book and Battle does a great job depicting the one-side gunfights.

The third issue ends with an interesting cliffhanger on the part of the scourge. Griffin, Ali, Jono and Astor (a cab driver that's friends with Griffin) definitely have their work cut out for them on either getting off the island or stopping the scourge. The third issue should be in stores today and interiors are below.