Publisher: Image Shadowline
Written, Illustrated & Covers by Brian Haberlin
Coloured by Geirrod Van Dyke
Lettered by Francis Takenaga
We read Hellcop #1 for the podcast October Round-Up and it was very much an Angela book. When I heard that the creative team from Jule’s Verne’s Lighthouse were teaming up again I was excited as I had really loved that book. I am delighted to say that Hellcop has so far been very enjoyable. Its got many aspects I like – sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk, detectives. It’s a really nice mix.
The world building expands in this second issue and in a way I really like. There’s some twists and turns to the story telling. It’s a fun ride through hell, well the burning sand dimension before we get to hell. Which is a very weird sentence to write but this is a fun book.
The plot is that Virgil, a hellcop more used to arresting demons for sugar addiction has ended up being framed for his partner’s murder. Why his partner was killed is a question Virgil needs to get to the bottom of and he thinks it might be linked to a mysterious object dropped by a demon in the last issue, which he picked up and which was dismissed by his superior.
Luckily his friend Taj is there to help him out. She sets him free and opens a portal to the dimension where he might be able to track down the life force of his murdered partner to try and clear his name. I really like Taj. She’s a strong female character and she’s a competent scientist with morals. I am glad to see her again and hope that we do see more of her. She’s instrumental here in helping Virgil escape. I just hope she doesn’t suffer any consequences. She seems clever enough to cover her tracks.
Of course the person Virgil needs to clear his name is his dead partner, which means a trip to an alternate dimension to intercept a train which carries dead people to another dimension, possibly the afterlife, which alive people can’t penetrate despite all their technology. This is such a great concept and it’s expositioned with humour. Why is it a train? Because the human mind can’t comprehend what it really is. Virgil makes a great explainer because of that strong witty streak.
It’s a really fun concept and it’s brought to life really well. The art does have a slightly surreal edge to it which really works. The design of so many things in this world are ridiculous but also amazing. Like the Omnicycle which Virgil uses to get around in the desert wasteland to reach the train before it passes through. It looks crazy with a motorcycle handlebars and seat situated in a giant ring wheel. I love it.
There’s a really interesting plot development with regards to who Virgil finds on the train. It deepens the plot and also helps inject some comedy. Letting someone know they’re dead and trying to evade a sort of grim reaper type on a train full of dead people has an over the top element which is well exploited in the humour of the book.
The art is not for everyone but I rather like the style of it. I love the designs of the inhabitants of burning lands. The place itself is a strange barren desert. Very like the old west but with a train carrying dead people. Which also flies due to what looks like a mechanical insect or something carrying it off into the sky. It’s a very interesting visual.
The panel layout is interesting too, with a nice mix of styles and panel sizes. A particular favourite of mine is the single page with Virgil riding the Omnicycle. It’s a really interesting little page with movement and that ridiculously wonderful design with a background that has a touch of the old wild west but also a strange other worldly figure. Really summing up this kind of world. The colouring also helps give the world its beak old west look.
I really like Francis Takenaga’s lettering. There’s some nice onomatopoeia when the train flies off. It’s also neat and clear and never obtrusive. I also like the slight difference between the speech and Virgil’s narration.
Overall Hellcop is the sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk detective mashup you should be reading. Check out the first two issues and take a trip into… hell. Or at least other dimensions. I’m interested to see which dimension we end up in next.