Review - Bedlam #4

A lunatic, a superhero and an archangel walk into a bar. It sounds like the start of a really bad joke, but it's really the start of a twisted tale involving all three at odds with one another and lots of deaths left in their wakes. A death count that only gets higher in Bedlam #4 from Image Comics.

The issue is written by Nick Spencer, illustrated by Riley Rossmo, colored by Jean-Paul Csuka and lettered by Kelly Tindall.

The issue starts with quite the catalyst in Father Henry found dead in his bathtub, the victim of mixing electricity and water. The combination of the two proves lethal, a contrast to the combination of both Fillmore Press and The First. The First is the city's superhero and, while he hasn't really shown up in the past few issues, he's still very much invested in finding the serial killer running roughshod through the city. That includes working with Acevedo to uncover the true motives behind the Archangel who's killing with little regard for anything really.

For a book about a serial killer, both past and present incarnations don't really have a lot of page time and that's perfectly fine. Spencer manages to make both Madder Red (Fillmore Press) and the Archangel equally as conniving, despite spending most of the issue following Acevedo around. Acevedo is a strong character in her own right, reconciling commonalities among the victims that narrows down who she's actually after. Every character plays their part well and they all work in concert.

The direction Spencer took the story in the fourth issue is probably what will stand out the most. He gives Archangel a back-story that could engender sympathy in the reader. Of course, he quickly wipes away all that goodwill with the closing pages of the book. Regardless, Archangel has his motives and Fillmore Press had his, but both tend to view life through a similar lens of insanity. Spencer does a great job using two similar characters almost as foils to one another.

Rossmo's art continues to bear a scratchy, dry look. The insanity is toned down from previous issues (no cats were harmed in the making of this issue!), but that doesn't mean the art isn't any less coarse. This is a series about bad people doing bad things in a bad world and Rossmo strives to make sure you don't forget that with every turn of the page. The illustrations showing the Archangel preparing for his next caper are also quite effective in demonstrating more of what he is exactly.

As a series, Bedlam is quite disturbing and that's said with great praise. Bedlam #4 keeps charging full-steam ahead into the darkness of humanity, reminding readers that there are people out there doing bad things for their own reasons. Spencer's characterizations are raw and present characters who stay with you after finishing the issue, while Rossmo's art is disjointed enough you get a firsthand look at a serial killer. Where the book goes from here is anyone's guess, but chances are it won't feature Fillmore Press, Archangel, The First and Acevedo sharing laughs at Starbucks.

Bedlam #4 is available now with interiors below.