The Curse of Brimstone #11 – Justin Jordan, Writer; Denys Cowan, Penciller; John Stanisci, Inker; Rain Beredo, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: Another Storytelling Swerve
Ray: Legendary artist Denys Cowan returns for the final arc of The Curse of Brimstone, and the series takes a level up thanks to the stunning visuals. Unfortunately, it still suffers from the series’ overall problem – a hero who remains pretty vague, and villains who seem more here for generic battle segments than any real menace. Joe and Annie are on the trail of the evil Salesman, and they’ve tracked his agents to a long-abandoned carnival. The way Jordan and Cowan depict the Salesman and his agents is pretty cool – dozens of vaguely similar “Agents” who work as one, finishing each other’s sentences and picking up where a recently killed one leaves off. But when they leave off, the story focuses more on the generic band of elite agents that Brimstone has been fighting over the course of the series, including the ice-powered Hound. And none of them leave much of an impression.
The biggest problem this series has is that Joe is still mostly a blank slate as a hero, mostly driven by regret, bad decisions, and more regret. Every few issues he gets angry, loses control of his powers, and makes things worse. So it’s almost inevitable when it happens again this issue, as he’s caught in a battle against a trio of elite agents. Annie tries to calm him down, but it doesn’t work and he winds up ripping a hole in the fabric of time and space – exactly what the true Salesman needed to walk through. Annie remains the most compelling character in this series, but I wish her walkabout had given her a bit more initiative – she spends too much time tied to Joe as she tries to be his voice of reason. Still, the gothic horror of this series is its biggest strength, and Cowan is the perfect choice to bring it to life. It’s one of the most visually distinct series on the stands, and I wish the story was as good to match.
Corrina: Cowan’s art is always a treat and it’s perfectly suited to the run-down horror that is the Curse of Brimstone. Just look at how the car’s movement in the third panel in the page above and how panel 6 calls back to those headlights to put our horror villains in silhouette. It’s not that the art on the series has been bad but Cowan is a master.
As far as the story, Annie is the most interesting character in the book, with her goal of stopping what’s going on and saving her brother. Joe, as Ray pointed out, is relatively two-dimensional. Over the course of the series, the storytelling has veered in one direction to the next, from the horror of a small-town’s malaise infecting Joe, to a road trip buddy story with Joe and Annie, and now, finally, to a supernatural story that finally lets us know what transformed Joe. I’m not sure this reveal was part of the original story and certainly, previous issues haven’t led up to it, but it works as an answer to what’s going on.
Will Joe heal the rift and get a happy ending? Yes to the first but since this is horror, I’m betting something awful goes down with either Annie or Joe.
To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.