The List Volume III Commandments IV & V (2011)

Sex :
Violence :
Editor Anthony Earl
Publisher Dog With A Bone Studios
Writers Paul Bedford
Art and Colours Henry Popienia, Tom Bonin
Cover Wayne Nichols
Genre Psycho


“Brother, soon you too will bask below these wings” - The Son

The Son is faltering in his pursuit of the commandments he needs to enact in order to achieve enlightenment. Thankfully a bit of paranormal family support soon sets him back on the path to heaven as he seeks closure on his penultimate commandment, revenge. We also get some insight into why the Son is on his particular path, or it might not be insight, there are no simple answers in The List.

With enlightenment only a final action away the Son needs to pass on his burden to his successor, who arrives thankfully as home delivery. Hold onto your linen folks, if you think The List has been going into dark places previously, then you are in for a roller coaster ride with how this one plays out, expect the unexpected! Paul Bedford left fielded me in a major way, and I'm still coming to terms with the final few pages. Let's seek some enlightenment about Volume III.

All good things must come to an end and with Volume III of The List we have the final instalment of perhaps the best ever graphic novel to be published in Australia to date. On the bright side of the crucifix there's ample room for a sequel given the conclusion, and that's one hell of a conclusion that is likely to raise a lot of argument amongst fans as to it's meaning. I wasn't expecting it, but am still holding to a non paranormal interpretation of the novel, though the implications would therefore be that the Son isn't alone in having a few Roos bounding around the top paddock. Anyway, and without giving too much away, you need to experience The List on an individual basis, Volume III successfully concludes the plot arc we have been following. So before breaking it down, and then building it back up, if you haven't read the two previous volumes then you will need to get into those before venturing into the dark morass of madness that Volume III presents you with.

Paul Bedford's script once again demonstrates he is disturbingly far too aware of his central character's emotional make-up. Volume III drags in previous themes from the first two volumes, guest appearances by family members for example, to have the reader fairly convinced that the Son is not dealing with any form of reality, just like those bozos at the Westboro Baptist Church. Once again the whole concept of the commandments, a chilling idea taken to the extreme, drives the plot forward with enlightenment within the Son's grasp. Bedford, once again I'm going to use the word “disturbingly”, focuses solidly on his lead character and we feel the Son's pain, desperation, and conviction of the rightness of his path to enlightenment. It's a strong piece of writing that has you inside the mind of a psycho killer who believes he has religion on his side. For the first time in the novel Bedford also gives us a point of view that isn't the Sons'. Without hitting the spoiler button, someone else arrives at the family home that dripped blood and we get the full reaction from that character to what can only be described as complete insanity. Bedford is strong enough to handle multiple point of views, and importantly makes each point of view believable.

There's some nice touches going down in the writing in Volume III, if “nice” is the word to use in a review of this franchise, that adds some mighty fine texture to the mix. During the Son's fulfilment of commandment four, we get the current action as the Son stalks and confronts his victim, but we also get flashbacks to the Son as a young boy who fell prey to an entirely different type of predator. Bedford's script is even more clever than this, but that pesky spoiler thing constrains me from hitting the concept to the depth it deserves. Just take it on trust that it's a beautiful piece of writing that will have you high fiving the corpses down in your basement. Bedford's attention to detail will keep you humming to the beat of The List, it's fully engrossing, and hits you between the eyes like the first shot of tequila on a hot Sunday afternoon.

Bedford leaves room for a sequel, but also makes it almost a requirement that we get a prequel to explain the situation the current book is set in. The Author doesn't give any real answers, though the reader sure can develop their own thoughts, which shows a surprising respect for the Audience that isn't normally associated with graphic novels.

Henry Popienia and Tom Bonin take Paul Bedford's script and breath life into it via some disturbingly, there's that word again, effective artwork. We're talking stark black on white, with a tendency toward sepia for flashbacks etc, that forces the reader to focus directly on the page and what exactly is going down. The List quite frankly would not have worked in colour to the same degree it does in the sparseness of the artwork used. We're talking minimalistic, highly charged panels, that manage in their apparent simplisticity to drive the emotion and tension inherent in the script. How Popienia and Bonin manage to pull this off remains a mystery as the artists add a dimension of meaning by the use of slight curves and an almost Shirley Jackson, circa The Haunting of Hill House, twist on standard sight lines. For no apparent reason the Artists' put the main theme from Psycho into my mind as I was reading the book. Popienia and Bonin take the script down to it's basic requirements and deliver a chilling and forceful interpretation of Bedford's script to leave the reader spellbound as they are dragged deeper into the world of The List.

I should also mention, out of space here, Wayne Nichols' cover that conveys what is in the book without giving any of the plot points away. Nichols doesn't go with a major piece of artwork, don't expect a post modernist masterpiece, but delivers exactly what is required.

I've been waiting over a year for the concluding issue in The List and I have to say the wait was well worth it. Volume III continues the waking nightmare of the novel and ties things up in some sort of a package. Bedford once again not dealing out any cookie cutter answers to the questions poised. Simply put, the best graphic novel to have ever been published in Australia with the script and artwork combining to make a statement about what can be achieved when unrestrained talent is thrown at a project.

Volume III arrives in an awesomely professionally looking fashion that will have Collectors salivating. You can grab a copy direct from the official site for I think $20. Value for money there as you get a 108 page graphic novel. If you haven't got your The List on yet, then you can also pick up the first couple of volumes from the site as well.

ScaryMinds Rates this read as ...

  Bedford, Popienia, and Bonin, deliver a masterpiece.