Review - Purgatori #1

"It is high time we humble this prisoner."

When you spend your lifetime as a feared goddess, you make a lot of enemies. A LOT of enemies. Those enemies tend to hold grudges, so when they get your hands on you it's not going to be good. Purgatori is a character who's always gotten her way. That's about to change in Purgatori #1 from Dynamite Entertainment, written by Aaron Gillespie and illustrated by Javier Garcia Miranda.

Purgatori has a bad situation brewing for her: she's trapped in hell and being tortured. That torture is at the hands of Lucifer himself and he's intent on sending a message to Purgatori that she'll not soon forget. Both Hel and Lucifer are keen on taking out a lot of frustration on Purgatori in the meantime, finding very little in the way of torture that can actually get to her. Fortunately for Lucifer (and unfortunately for Purgatori), there's one form of torture he can exact upon her that not even she expects.

Purgatori is a centuries old goddess who's had her way with countless civilizations, so having her humanized a bit is a pretty interesting back to basics for the character. Gillespie does a solid job introducing her to unfamiliar readers as someone who's spent an eternity getting her way, which makes her humbling at the end even more of a satisfying set-up. Having said that, the pacing throughout is a little uneven. Most of the issue is spent at the hands of her captors, with dialogue being exchanged that reinforces her toughness. The last few pages introduce the reader to the new Purgatori, subsequently setting up where the next few issues will likely be headed.

Most of the book takes place in hell, which Miranda illustrates quite convincingly. He eschews the traditional landscapes of fire and brimstone in favor of an underground setting that's more reminiscent of a cave. Lucifer looks sufficiently intimidating, while Purgatori retains much of what fans of her character will remember when she was a major player in the past. There a crispness to the art that makes it feel very polished and Miranda relies on some pretty intricate shading to emphasize the vileness of some characters. There are some instances where the shadows are a little too dark, which makes interpreting some of the action a little difficult.

Purgatori #1 is sort of a rebirth of the character, introducing her to a new generation of readers. In that regard, the first issue does a great job setting her up by using her past as a means of defining her evil, while at the same time putting her in a position to regain some of her previous reputation. Gillespie presents her as a woman previously feared for her ruthlessness now subjected to essentially being laughed at by humanity (much like Illyria in Angel). Miranda illustrates her with a great bloodlust that even she has difficulty sating and gives her a lot of help in the way of re-introducing her to readers. There's even a pretty powerful full-page illustration that gets her back in the action in a big way. Purgatori #1 is a strong first issue for a familiar character that puts her in a rather unfamiliar situation.

Purgatori #1 is in stores September 17 with interiors below.