Review - Redlands #1 (@imagecomics)

"Things soundin' mighty rowdy up there."

There are times when someone does something that's so infuriating you guiltily plot their comeuppance in your head. Very rarely does that thought come to fruition, but if you're a witch you've got a much better chance of making that thing happen. In Redlands #1 from Image Comics, the witches are very good at doling at comeuppance. The issue is written by Jordie Bellaire, illustrated by Vanesa R. Del Rey and lettered by Clayton Cowles.

The police are failing to maintain control of their old-fashioned town, and a coven of killer witches plan to take everything from them. This summer, hide your bibles.

Bellaire drops the reader right into the thick of chaos in a small Florida town and with that chaos comes a lot of violence and fear. The pacing of the issue is frenetic because of that approach, but Bellaire doesn't pull any punches in letting the reader know that Badlands #1 isn't a book about intolerance. The entire issue hinges on the suspense of what's causing all the mayhem and when Bellaire finally pulls back the curtain the result is terrifying. The witches wreaking havoc lustily enjoy what they're doing as something of a catharsis in the face of an oppressive society. And Bellaire's dialogue is spot on in further amplifying the aforementioned fear, showcasing local characters with a penchant for demonstrating the limits of their relatively little minds.

The artwork in Redlands #1 works exceptionally well because Del Rey illustrates the burning town with a touch of the ethereal haunting it. The effect of the witches decapitating people for instance is done very subtly by Del Rey in a way that emphasizes their supernatural nature. And Del Rey doesn't let the violence of the witches take over the book, keeping much of the goriness out of a sight. Cross-hatching also fills most of the characters, reinforcing the crude and scratchy attitudes of the town itself. Bellaire handles the colors on the book and casts much of it in reds and dark browns as a means of reflecting the burning fire (and witches' rage) consuming the town.

Redlands #1 is a slick and fast-moving tale about fighting back against prejudices. The coven isn't pleased with the antiquated attitudes of Redlands, Florida, and they're not afraid to show it. Bellaire writes the book in a way that expresses frustration with any manner of intolerance and handles that intolerance by burning it with the same fires that stoke the haters themselves. Del Rey's illustrations are grimy and do a fantastic job of showing a world burning to the ground as a result of that hatred. Redlands #1 is a brilliant first issue that takes some not-so-subtle stabs at the seemingly declining state of civility in the world.

Redlands #1 is available August 9.