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Night Owl Society #3

Written by James Venhaus

Art by Pius Bak

Letters by Marshall Dillon

Review by Jason Kahler

The third issue of Night Owl Society brings its initial story arc to a close in satisfying, tragic fashion. This will be a largely spoiler-free review, and include some comments that writer James Venhaus provided about his process and the future for the Society.

My review for the first issue of Night Owl Society recommended a buy, and this issue is no different.

Society leader David has hatched his plan to bring an end to the Viceroy’s criminal enterprises, enterprises that cost the life of his friend and mentor, Father Shawn. Through wits and martial abilities, the Society has attacked the Viceroy’s business where it hurts: in the pocketbook.

But like all good criminal masterminds, the Viceroy has a trick up his sleeve. To say too much more would give away the book’s important twists and turns, but I will say that the developments feel natural.

Venhaus told me that he appreciates the structure of The Walking Dead. “Any character can be killed at any time,” he wrote to me in a series of questions and answers. Night Owl Society ends in a death that keeps in line with TWD‘s philosophy, though here I didn’t feel adequate build up or payoff.

I attribute that to the art. Bak’s work isn’t nuanced enough to convey many emotions. He draws in thick, sketchy lines. His figures are blocky. People often lack faces.

Panel from Night Owl Society 3

Five people. Hardly a nose among them.

While at times the art works, too many panels feel underdeveloped.

Venhaus told me his scripts are mostly dialogue and stage directions, similar to the plays he’s successfully written. I’d like to see him push his artist more. Bak shows flashes of ability, but he’s allowed to get away with too little, too often.

The arc’s ending is both an end and a beginning, a result of Venhaus writing himself “into a corner.” Having his teenage heroes kill even a criminal mastermind would go down a road he’d rather avoid, although the touch of death hangs over this series from the beginning.

There are plans for the further adventures of the Night Owl Society, assuming sales are strong and IDW is willing. I’d like to see Venhaus come to terms with the darkness of his plot and the adventure some of his characters seek. In the three issues we have, those conflicting tones don’t yet gel.

Verdict

This remains a buy for me. The story and its presentation aren’t perfect, but there’s plenty of satisfaction in the premise and its execution.

 

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