"The motive is unclear. We speculate the Killer has a personal vendetta against these men" - Detective Marshall Daniels
Following the murder of Donald Swanson Detectives Daniels and Harvey are perplexed by a cryptic message left by the assassin, "Welcome to Winter City". Naturally the news media have picked up the "grim reaper" story and are running with it, which pretty forces Daniels to make a press conference that amounts to "no comment". Daniels thinks he knows the motive behind the killing but is not linking the dots yet as the body count mounts amongst the City's mobsters.
Meanwhile three mob bosses, Edward, Vernon, and Masters, speculate the spate of murders could be in retaliation to something called "typhoon" that involved someone named Thomas Scarft and two kids. Edward resolves to call in "the Handsome Man" and assign extra security in the hopes of avoiding further fatalities. In a flash back to Sam Winters aged twelve, our young orphan comes into conflict with three bullies and goes down after showing resistance and ominously mentioning "fresh meat", Sam's a biter. He is however befriended by Casey who wants to be an angle when she dies, but does warn about the Angel of Death, a rider of the apocalypse. Strangely Uncle Norman isn't on the scene.
Just in case you think you might be missing out on some "Grim Reaper" action the book finishes with our masked anti-hero crashing Vernon's pad and ploughing through the "extra security" without too many problems.
Book four of Winter City takes a break from proceedings to further round out what is going down currently and to provide a hint of why there's a masked killer on the loose who seems fixated on the criminal overlords. The Purcell Bros take time out of their busy schedule to bring us up to date with the two Detectives who have probably had the worst case of their careers dropped in their laps and no real clues going forward. An apparent masked psychopath is going Jack the Ripper through the City's crime overlords and Daniels and Harvey at this stage are his/her Frederick Abberline. We also get a huge hint as to the likely cause of the murder spree, something to do with whatever "typhoon" was. And to round out the goodness further background on the younger Sam Winters, who has been introduced to Biblical overtones of a darker nature, that play a major part in the current murder spree. Now no one can argue that they are not getting their coin's worth here, that's a hell of a lot of exposť in 28 pages to be going on with. Considering we're a third of the way through what amounts to a graphic novel, the parts are being moved into place and an explosive middle section is expected.
There's something intrinsic to the writing in Slaughter in the Tower of Sloth that will hold you spellbound to the page as the Purcell Bros continue to build the framework of their narrative. You can pretty much read the issue as a standalone, though the extrinsic would require that you have read the preceding three issues to gain an insight into our central character, personality traits being told in flashbacks that are well worth revelling in.
If I haven't mentioned it previously the Issue is in full glorious colour, though given the setting that would be in a somewhat grunge sort of a way. We're not talking technicolour here, more seppo tones in line with the atmosphere being created by the narrative. But there's some broad sweeps to keep things interesting and a touch of class from time to time as the panels allow.
The artwork is pretty fantastic and reminds me of something else, though I can't readily identify what. There's almost an anime feeling to things, though given the subject matter doesn't involved dark long haired revenants we're not talking a direct parallel, you are going to have to dial in to understand where I'm going with this, but considering the narrative remains pretty engrossing that shouldn't be a hardship. Pablo Verdugo Munoz and David Aravena Riquelme capture the feeling of the story and really nail it to the wall, I'm high fiving the mermaid I keep in my bathtub over here.
Winter City keeps delivering issue after issue with the story becoming more than engrossing as more is delivered on Sam Winter's background and the death toll rises. I'm talking best Downunder graphic novel since we were all blown away by The List, hence quite possibly best graphic novel period, U.S offerings included. There's a whole bunch of things to enjoy here, from the developing plot to the artwork, so what's stopping you from dialling in, hey only three back issues to catch up with. Full recommendation to dark genre fans, comic fans, and folk who love themselves a good story. Winter City is the love child if Silence of the Lambs and DC comics ever got hot and wet with it.
Winter City Book Four: Slaughter in the Tower of Sloth is available from your usual comic store haunts, for folk overseas check out one of the nominated outlets on this page. Or if online orientated then the whole published issue range is available right here.