Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Review: Satanic Hell #6

Story: Grigoris Douros
Art: Kevin Enhart
Additional art: Newel Anderson
Colours: Jimmy Kerast
Lettering: E.T. Dollman

This week I've had the chance to look at the penultimate issue of Satanic Hell, which is available on comixology today. Now this issue was my first foray into Satanic Hell's world, so I had a little bit of catching up to do and as that meant reading more comics it was no trouble at all.
Comixology has the genre for Satanic Hell listed as 'music' and in a way I suppose it is, after all the titular characters are a metal band who become embroiled in a religious conspiracy. However if you scratch the surface this series is about so much more, it's a subversive, satirical look at theology and dictatorships in a world where everything isn't as it seems. At a deeper level it is a look at the dichotomy of good and evil, at what happens when everything you thought you knew was exposed as a lie, and it brings all these elements together nicely to make for a pretty enjoyable read. 

Coming away from the series and back to this issue. I'm not one for spoilers or just summarising an issue, so just a brief sentence or so on the plot. In this issue Reverend Scudder and Dr.Wartech's machinations for the Satanic Hell trio come to light, while Eva is desperate to prove herself after stepping out from under her father's shadow. 

The writing, on the whole, is solid. The characters are well built and you get a sense of their personalities throughout the issue, which helps to identify with the protagonists. In comics (in fact in entertainment all round) I think it's important that the villains are given elements of humanity, complex layers that build up an explanation of their evil nature and save them from becoming one dimensional. Of course there are exceptions but, generally speaking, evil for it's own sake isn't exciting. So it's a positive note that here the script does give subtle indications and hints at the antagonists remaining streaks of humanity; clues to their aspirations and dreams, albeit malevolent ones. However, on occasion, the story does take a few awkward steps and the pace suffers because of it, so there is the odd panel that is difficult to read. Overall though this doesn't draw too much away from the series building to its conclusion as a whole, so it's easy enough to overlook. The dialogue is suited to the tone of the book but at times it does suffer from being slightly predictable, which is one of the reasons the pace suffers as mentioned before. However it is still relatively easy to hear the conversations taking place in your head, which is a good marker a well scripted book.

The cover for this issue is dark and moody, which as the title is Satanic Hell, you would expect. The cover is a good indication for what's to come throughout the issue, as the artwork follows a similar tone; dark and moody. If I was being truly picky I would say that there is a slight inconsistency in the art in some panels, the odd face or place that doesn't quite match up, but these are very few and don't detract from the quality in general. There are some nice splash panels that show a lot of detail and are a joy to look at, also for all you gore fans there is a gruesome surgical scene that is intricate and quite horrifying too. The downside to the art is that sometimes the spacing of the panels could of been slightly better and there are times where the pages don't flow too smoothly, making them a little difficult to follow, but overall it's easy on the eye. Kevin Enhart's art pairs up nicely with Jimmy Kerast's colours and the book gets a dark, ominous feel that benefits it greatly. Kerast uses shades of black well and the muted colours conjure up images of the inferno just behind the pages. It helps build up the suspense and gives you a feeling that something is inevitable is about to happen, appropriate as the series heads towards the finale.

Overall this was a pretty fun read, and it succeeded in grabbing my attention sufficiently enough to go back and read the previous issues with vigour. There are a few negatives that do impinge on the flow of the story, making some pages difficult to concentrate on, but these shouldn't be enough to scare you away from what is a relatively poignant issue. I'd recommend this issue (and indeed series) to anyone interested in something a little deeper than a straightforward good versus evil scenario. Again if we must follow the archaic stereotype and attribute base values, then I would give this issue 7/10. It's only let down some clunky pace at times, but as I've said a damn good read otherwise.

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