Writing and Colors by Jordie Bellaire
Art by Vanesa R. Del Rey
Lettering and Production by Clayton Cowles
Logo by Fonografiks
First, let’s just take in that cover. I want to show that thing to little kids that annoy me to give them nightmares. So good.
Redlands is a witch based horror tale set during the 1970’s in Redlands, Florida. The townsfolk try to lynch three witches, but their necks don’t break, and they escape. This all happens before the first panel. The story picks up with the town’s law enforcement, officers and civilians, holed up in the police station. The townsfolk have run away or been killed. (The officers do not know their fate for sure.) The witches use magic to get their revenge.
The plot doesn’t waste anytime on backstory, and it goes for the jugular early on. This is easily the coolest horror story I have read so far. The witches make vampires, werewolves, and zombies look like one trick ponies. I have often felt that the horror potential for witches has never been fully realized. There have been attempts, recently by the horror anthology, American Horror Story, but no one has truly tapped their talents. The suspense is there from the start, as the officers get picked off one by one, and the ending lets you know what the premise of the series will be. The story tiptoes around some modern social issues, and I am curious if those will be addressed in the coming arc or arcs. The downfall: there is no real character development or back story. After reading the issue, I couldn’t even tell you the name of the witches.
The pedigree of the creative team gives me hope, though. The writer and colorist, Eisner winning Jordie Bellaire, was the colorist for Tom King’s Vision, and the artist, Vanesa R. Del Rey, was on Robinson’s Scarlet Witch, making this a marriage of skill and experience. The art is beautiful and haunting, the glow of the fire leaps off of the page. The dialogue is straight forward enough, though it does touch on some stereotypical lines. (Calling cops pigs, cop making racist comments to black prisoner, etc..) The magic is in the pace, which while quick, does not go by so fast that you feel cheated, as is in the case in some stories. It builds, and when it reaches its conclusion, you are left wanting more. There is a letter from Jordie at the end that dedicates the story to those who feel outside of society, and if it builds on those themes, this book could be a classic.
VERDICT: Buy. This story promises creeps, horrors, and terrors, and it delivers. It is exactly what a witch story should and could be. I can’t wait to see what frights await. Anyone who loves gore and goosebumps will be very happy with a visit to Redlands.