Thursday, October 28, 2010

Review: The Damned

In the mood for demon mobsters who traffic in the typical prohibition era vices like booze, drugs, gambling and souls? Wait, souls? Ok, so The Damned isn't your typical mobster story, it's better.

In the reimagined prohibition era created here by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt, demons run the Chicago crime syndicates, and soul trafficking is a big part of the game. Two of the Windy City's biggest mob families are about to broker a deal and consolidate power, but before the deal can go down, the middle-man, tasked with helping the two rival families iron out the details, goes missing. That's where our hero Eddie comes in.

Eddie has been dead for three days when we first meet him, but before too long, he's alive and more or less well, helping the Aligheri family track down the missing middle-man. See, Eddie's been cursed, and he can only sorta die. Whenever he dies, the next unlucky bastard to touch him gets Eddie's deathly injuries transferred to their body, and Eddie, well, he's alive. So Eddie is sent to find the missing middle-man, but what he finds is one tangled-ass web of double crossings, deceit, murder, and soul thievery. Eddie might just be able to get to the bottom of things too, if he can stay alive.

The Damned is a pretty awesome hunk of crime/horror. Writer Cullen Bunn does a great job of creating a fascinating world, and also a great job of setting things up with the first few pages. I found that there was so much more I wanted to know once the principle plot had been introduced. The demons also add a great twist to the classic mobster storyline.

The characters in this graphic novel are also quite well done. Plugging evil demons in as mob bosses and muscle was a nice touch and a few of the demons are very entertaining characters. Where Bunn's character building really shines is with the hero, Eddie. Eddie's pretty much a bad-ass who can get the job done, and while his tactics aren't necessarily the most humane, or kind, I definitely came to appreciate his unique style. It might help that he's one of the few human characters in the story, so at the very least he's easier to relate to.

The hierarchy between humans and demons was sort of an interesting side story. The relationship between the two beings never gets explained, but a lot can be learned just from the text, and the art.

Speaking of which, the art, done by Brian Hurtt is great. Hurtt draws both humans and demons with skill, and knocks the scenery and the setting out of the park as well. I really got a real sense of time and place as I read. The 30's come to life with Hurtt's eye for detail, architecture, not to mention, clothing, and technology. Normally, I'm a bigger fan of color with comic art, but Hurtt's black and white art was great, and I actually think the black and white treatment was more appropriate given the setting of the story. All in all, very solid work.

When I had finally read the last page of The Damned I found myself wanting more, and supposedly there is more of The Damned to come in the future, but for now, the creative team of Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt are hard at work on their ongoing comic, The Sixth Gun, which is also quite awesome. I would be hard pressed to say which I'd rather have these guys working on as both are high quality and highly entertaining. My advice is buy this graphic novel of The Damned, then start reading The Sixth Gun and thank me later for helping to improve your quality of life. You're welcome.

Grade: B+

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