Right. Before I proceed with this review, I find it only fair to offer the following disclaimer: “I, Siobhan McKenna; lifelong comic fan, DC enthusiast, part time gamer and movie lover; am not a fan of the horror genre”… Not something that many would admit to, although, given that I have been known to jump at the sight of my own shadow, this will not come as a surprise to many.. Despite this somewhat embarrassing information, you may be surprised that the subject of this review is Vertigo’s ‘The Dark and Bloody’, heralded, by many, as being a ‘classic horror tale’. However, as I am a fan of Vertigo’s work I decided to brave this one, in broad daylight, surrounded by family, friends and some make-shift weaponry…
Warning: There may be possible spoilers ahead.
The underlining plot of this tale is, seemingly, a classic revenge horror: an unwitting protagonist trifles with a force to be reckoned with, the evil force starts to invade their life, unholy hell breaks loose, most people die: you know the drill.. More recent examples of this include ‘Drag me to Hell’ (still emotionally scarred) or, in a more comic format, ‘The Final Girls’ (see our review by clicking here). Shawn Aldridge and Scott Godlewski, however, have managed to breathe new life into this age-old format, and provide the reader with a more, compelling turn of events.
The protagonist of this tale is the, unfortunate, Iris Gentry. Iris is an Iraq war veteran who has known death from a very young age. He has returned to his home, in Kentucky, to support his small family, mainly via the means of his, less than legal, moonshine business. Whilst Iris has known his fair share of horrors, such as those from his time in Iraq, he has come home to face a whole new breed, as a direct result of a deed he and his regiment committed, whilst abroad.
In this issue, the reader is subjected to a very personal assault on Iris’s life, as the forces, that he has brought on himself, really come to the fore. In these pages these demons truly begin to reveal the true measure of their rage and show the lengths they will go for their hallowed vengeance. Aldridge demonstrates a great ability to build tension and intrigue in his writing as the reader can feel the sense of dread, and inevitability, growing with every page. In an unholy marriage, Godlewski’s images only add to this sense of unease as he manages to use a level of detail that only serves to make these nightmares all the more real.
Possibly the most intriguing outcome of Aldridge and Godlewski’s collaboration is their title character, Iris. Iris, for all intent and purposes is an extremely flawed character. He was party to a war crime, heads an illegal business and has helped to bring unprecedented catastrophe to his hometown. However, despite all this, the reader can’t help but hope that Iris manages to find a way to pacify this evil and avoid what seems to be a forgone conclusion.
In all, ‘The Dark and Bloody’ is one of those rare comics that allows its contents to stay in your head, long after you have turned the page, and I, for one, will be sleeping will the lights on tonight.
The Dark and The Bloody #4 is available to buy from today by clicking here or by visiting your local comic book retailer.