Writer: Brian Buccellato / Artist: Toni Infante / Image Comics
I read some interesting advice this week about writing. It said that when thinking of characters, don’t add them because they’re cool, add them because of how the affect other characters. A simple piece of advice, really, yet one I’d never thought of in such a direct, succinct way. Where the protagonist’s purpose may be a particular goal, each supporting character’s whole purpose is based on relationships, and the dynamics they bring out of others. Sons of the Devil does this well with the introduction of its newest character Jenny, and even better with Travis’ girlfriend, Mel. With such a dark series where the fear of death looms over each page, and a protagonist who doesn’t have a burning goal besides to be left the hell alone, it’s the relationships that make me care, and what ultimately keeps me invested in this book.
Sons of the Devil #4 progresses in the gradual, clinching way that has become its trademark. Travis and Mel are living so close to danger without knowing it, and since they live fairly normal lives it’s easy for readers to put themselves in their shoes and wonder “what if this were me?” That’s the kind of empathy that makes this book creepy: Travis and Mel didn’t play with a Ouija board or hold a séance – they didn’t do anything to provoke horror – yet it’s right outside their door.
The funny thing is, I still care about their relationship, as if there’s not a cult busy torturing people and that wants to claim their souls or do whatever it is cults do. Balancing a character-driven story with a pace that has a slow build is a difficult thing to do as a writer, but something Brian Buccallato is doing very well. I said it before and I’ll say it again: this is the True Detective season 2 we deserved to have.
This book couldn’t be what it is with many other artists. Toni Infante’s style captures the forbidding tone of Buccallato’s story amazingly well, from the gloomy color scheme to the tension-building panel progressions that capture the drama of each confrontation.
When things come to a head, I hope it hits hard. We still have a lot to learn about the cult, Travis’ family, and the people out to get him, but when the pieces are in place and we come closer to conclusion, things are going to get grim. And that’s how it should be. This is how I should feel. Anxious. Curious. Worried.
9.2 out of 10
Reading Sons of the Devil? You can catch up on previous reviews here.