Review - Alabaster: The Good, The Bad and the Bird #1 (@DarkHorseComics)

"We are our own devils--we drive ourselves out of our Edens."

The line between good and evil is thin and sometimes crossed with reckless abandon. There are some who staunchly defend one side or the other though and it's those who are often at odds with one another. Both sides are on display in Alabaster: The Good, The Bad and the Bird #1 from Dark Horse Comics. The issue is written by Caitlin R. Kiernan, illustrated by Daniel Warren Johnson, colored by Carlos Badilla and lettered by Nate Piekos of BLAMBOT.

A new evil haunts the sun-scorched back roads and ghost towns of the American South-murderous twins who command a legion of ghouls. Once again, Dancy Flammarion must face down demons: both those who walk the world unchallenged and those in her own shattered mind.

There's some shady dealings going on in Alabaster: The Good, The Bad and the Bird #1 which set a pretty haunting picture. Kiernan writes the bulk of the issue with a focus on an exchange between two unsavory parties, both of whom are seeking out rather unique prizes for the barter. This aspect is paced very well, presented slowly and methodically in a way that underscores the vileness of the people in this universe. Kiernan uses the exchange as a vehicle for presenting Dancy Flammarion's plight to the reader and it's one where things are looking a little murky for her safety (and sanity). In her absence, there's been a rise of evil monsters and just plain monstrous individuals and that's where Kiernan clearly wants the series to live in.

The moodiness to the illustrations by Johnson provide a perfect setting for the events to transpire. The southern setting is accented by a dustiness to the scenes, highlighting a class of individuals who aren't shy about their seedy proclivities. Two of the characters are illustrated with animal masks that sullies the exchange ever further. These sequences are in stark contrast to those of Dancy, who's presented as a black, celestial body adrift against a bold, white background, courtesy of Badilla's effective colors. The interplay of the two sequences is great at showing off the disparate odds of good and evil contained within each participant.

Alabaster: The Good, The Bad and the Bird #1 is an eerie first issue that offers rather grand ambitions. Dancy is being positioned as a reluctant hero and there are clearly people in her world that need to be stopped. Kiernan's script is evenly paced and reveals just enough information to establish the morality of the characters involved. Johnson's illustrations are corporeal for most, but he blends in aspects of the ethereal as appropriate for good measure. Alabaster: The Good, The Bad and the Bird #1 is a pretty haunting tale that doesn't really want to be anything else and it works.

Alabaster: The Good, The Bad and the Bird #1 is in stores December 9.