"Something terrible happened to those kids" - Detective Daniels
Sam Winters, aged sixteen, is walking with his girlfriend Casey when they run afoul of three delinquents. Naturally Sam, in typical psycho fashion, allows his dark passenger to rise to the surface and blood ensues. Not wanting to let the mood drain Sam also heads home and deals some payback to his Uncle Norman, notably donning the now familiar mask in Jason Voorhees fashion in the process. The cops arrive, apparently not all police are of the Keystone Cops variety, and Sam finds himself the model inmate at the local nuthouse.
Detective Daniels is closing in on Grim Reaper Killer and now has Sam Winter's name attached to the case, unfortunately for Daniels Sam has gone walk about whereabouts unknown. Can Daniels track his killer or will more bodies be added to the growing tally?
Okay so it's been a while since I touched bases with Winter City, work commitments inserting themselves into working on the site, and seems Winter City Productions haven't been allowing any moss to grow on their stones while I was AWOL. Not only do we have issue eight of the current graphic novel to rock out to but there's also a new series from our old friend Jason Franks to groove too. More on the second comic in the next review, for now let's get down and dirty with Winter City circa eight. Oops before I get started a few people have voiced over the months the opinion that Winter City has been doled out rather too slowly for their taste, well the Purcell Bros have your back, they have rolled out the first six issues of Winter City in one volume. Now how cool is that, go check it out right about here.
Focusing finally on the issue at hand, number 8 - The Angel of Death Doth Rise for those with low attention spans, we finally get some dots being joined on Sam Winter's development into a sort of Dark Knight Psychopath. Without going into too many details, which would necessitate spoilers and the like, Sam is finally pushed too far and his alter ego emerges with grim results for those doing the pushing. The Purcells have pretty much nailed the development of the character, grim hard home life mixed with that old time religion, to show how we get the dark gothic avenger the graphic novel is dealing with. Clearly there's more background to discover in future issues but for now I for one am satisfied with where we are at.
Issue Eight continues the standard established in previous issues with the artwork. We get a rich gothic feel to the panels; the world of Winter City is a dark almost surreal place that reminds me of the 1980s slasher epics. There's an intense gritty feeling to the artwork that mashes well with the subject matter that at its very heart is pretty intensely blood thirsty. The Grim Reaper makes Dexter look like a Sunday school teacher. Those with a critical eye will also note the subtle change between panels dictating the larger world to those depicting events at the facility young Sam Winters has been incarcerated in. All great graphic novels contain artwork that reflects the subject matter of the novel, Munoz and Riquelme are completely aware of this with their art capturing the Purcells' text perfectly in both look and atmosphere.
Once again Patrick and Carl Purcell delivered a twist to the evolving story that I didn't see coming, strangely had other notions where we might be headed, so I was rocking out to the script. Previously I've had a feeling we're dealing with a sort of twist on the Dark Knight thing, now I've got a real feeling the novel may move heavily into tragic territory, there's certainly enough indications that the reader might just be headed for rough water there. There's certainly an expectation that certain characters are going to become a lot more complex than expected throwing any preconceived notions of antagonist and protagonist out the window. Like all great dark genre outings characters actions reflect their motivations rather than being dictated by plot requirements. Sam Winters is becoming very much the anti-hero in a sort of dark twisted Clint Eastwood fashion; go watch any of the Dirty Harry movies to get the idea.
If I had to make a definitive statement on book eight it would be that the graphic novel is taking a twist into nightmare territory, with some panels calling to mind the artwork used in early Alien comics. There's a full page panel toward the end of the book that completely reflects a nightmarish view of the Grim Reaper that certainly had an Alien feel to it. This book is definitely not for the faint hearted in this regard, the team behind Winter City are certainly not pulling their punches, then again neither is Sam Winter. I've got a feeling things are going to get a lot darker in coming issues, and really can't see this one being all wine and roses by the final panel in book twelve. So hell yeah, horror fans are well catered for, and yes if you dug into Dexter then this book is one you are not going to want to miss.
Before closing out I should point out that Book eight, and indeed the whole graphic novel, certainly has earned the parental warning the covers display. The Purcell Bros take a great big hunk of blood red meat and slam it onto your plate without apology. While the violence may come thick and fast, there's no denying the body count, we're not talking gorenography or violence for violence sack - everything advances the plot or develops our understanding of the story being told. So hey some fibre in your dark genre diet, not complaining over here y'all.
Book Eight of Winter City concerns itself with filling in some of the background details the Reader may or may not have been wondering about. For mine it definitively defines the character of Sam Winters, and his dark passenger - the Grim Reaper, and makes a convincing read for the present situation. Sure there are still some details to fill in, but hey four more issues. I had a lot of fun with this instalment and am for sure chomping at the bit for the next book in the series. If after a dark home spun anti-hero book then you are in the right place, Winter City rocks the Gothic landscape for mine.