By Dustin Cabeal
The South is hot right now, but I ain’t going to lie, it’s wearing on me. Have you been to the south? The only thing it has going for it is the humidity. If in fact vampires, lost gods, witches and high school football coaches are running amok down there then I’ll say on this side of the Mississippi. All incest jokes aside, I am really tired of the backdrop of the South. It’s this year’s dystopian future. All that said, Redlands is worth reading.
If you couldn’t tell, I haven’t gotten into all the southern books. I’ve tried them all, but have yet to return to them. Redlands, on the other hand, caught my readership with its presentation, with its gore and due how many times I said, “What the fuck is going on in this story?” Don’t worry; it was a good “What the fuck is going on in this story?” After reading the first issue, I wished it was just a graphic novel, so I could just keep going.
The gist of the first issue is that there’s a giant tree on fire in front of the police station and all of the cops in town have holed up inside like the wild west. They’re looking for some three women, we can tell by the nooses that are hanging from the burning tree and the amount of times they’re referred to as the “bitches.” It’s quite a bit in case you were wondering. What happens from there is textbook horror, but in a classic 70s/80s way that makes it highly enjoyable.
Some people are going to be like, “why’s a colorist writing a comic book?” Well, why not? Here’s a little secret about the comic industry, everyone wants to do everything. If they could, they would. They would write, draw, color, letter, print, and merchandise everything all on their own if they had all the skills and time in the world. Jordie Bellaire is one of the best colorists in the business, but she’s kicking off her writing career with Redlands. The writing is good. I’ll admit, there’s a lot of questions left unanswered at the end of this issue. In fact, the issue itself is more like a prelude to the actual story since everything will be different in the next issue. It’s hard to say what the story will be like because of that; this is very much so the dinner before the show. We’ll have to wait and see if it’s like Medieval Times where the show is good, but you wonder how they made so much food taste like nothing or will it be like a cruise ship that books a big act and had delicious food. Yes, I was stretching for that example… thank you for noticing.
Bellaire’s dialogue is what shines in this issue. It’s believable, it’s quick and stays with you. It also develops the personality of the book all within the first issue. That’s a credit to her writing because many a writer has written several issues and never found the voice of the series.
Accompanying Bellaire is Vanesa R. Del Rey. An artist that I like, but often have problems enjoying her work. It boils down to the characters and their designs. With her work on Hit, I could never get into how the characters looked, but I loved the covers. The action worked well and was the saving grace for that series. With Redlands, it’s the most comfortable Del Rey has seemed in a comic. The character’s look good, and there’s a variety of shapes and body types to everyone from cops to criminals. There’s a greater sense of detail to her line work which has also been a complaint of mine when reading her art in the past. Bellaire’s coloring works in tandem with Del Rey’s artwork, to the point that it looks like one person did everything.
If you can’t tell, I’m not hot on the South, but I’m hot on this book. It's honestly been some time since there was a new Image title that I was looking forward to reading more, but Redlands broke that drought. If you’re into horror, witches or even the goddamn South, then definitely check out Redlands.
Writer/Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Artist: Vanesa R. Del Rey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Image Comics