A horror book about a small town in Florida about to be overtaken by killer witches, yes, please. Redlands is a new title from Image Comics by Jordie Bellaire. Most will know Bellaire from her fantastic color work, here she is doing both color and writing. Teamed up with Vanesa R. Del Rey as this title’s artist, they make one great team on this first issue.
What is this all about?
A brand-new horror book from the minds of Eisner Award-winner JORDIE BELLAIRE (PRETTY DEADLY, Vision, Batman) and critically acclaimed artist VANESA R. DEL REY (ZERO, Scarlet Witch, Constantine) brings you to the sleepy, sunny town of Redlands, Florida. 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.
Redlands gets you into the thick of it right away, kicking off with lots of action and questions. As it moves along it will answer a few here and there but it will also leave you lingering on some. Bellaire builds this world very quickly and throws us into a confrontation between the police department and the witches. Where a hanging of the witches went wrong and now the police are held up inside the precinct and the tree outside with nooses is lit ablaze. Right away this sets the tone and tension for the issue, where this is a “horror” book but not a jump scare title.
I simply love the dialogue found within the first issue. Being a big fan of books that are not afraid to use expletives when the time is right and to display emotion. Bellaire uses quite a few here and they all feel justified when they hit. Shit if I saw what some of these characters did I would be doing the same. This issue is a roller-coaster of emotions, from fear to anger to compassion. Del Ray’s sketchy style really helps deliver those emotions and keep pace with the story being told. Plus throw in some gruesome moments and I am a fan of what Del Ray is doing here.
As we move along there is an interesting dynamic that is at the very core of this title. Where the police of this town are rather old-fashioned in their ways and have suppressed the town because of it. Almost running a sort of dynasty in the town, as they pretty much rule it. However enter the witches, who want to take this town for themselves and make it new again. While this would be an improvement, who is safe from them? Are they really looking out for everyone’s best interests? Would the town just be swapping one devil for another?
Both Bellaire and Del Ray deliver some stunning visuals here. As Bellaire is doing the colors here you know to expect some great scenes. In particular, the burning tree outside the precinct is one that they keep coming back to and it looks stunning each time it is on the page. Bellaire makes the page come to life, with the fire engulfing the tree lighting up the page. Del Ray’s sketchy style works wonders here, making some truly terrifying scenes. The dark scenes found later in this issue are a real treat, delivering some great moments.
For the first outing on this title, it is a solid entry. This issue leaves you with more questions than answers, but that will bring you back for more. Bellaire and Del Ray deliver a very interesting world here, one that I want to know more about. Honestly, go read this fucking book!
Reviewed by Tim Montoya
Written by Jordie Bellaire
Art by: Vanesa R. Del Ray, Jordie Bellaire, Clayton Cowles
Published by Image Comics
Release Date: August 9th, 2017