Publisher: Image Shadowline
Written, Illustrated & Covers by Brian Haberlin
Coloured by Geirrod Van Dyke
Lettered by Francis Takenaga
When last we left our hero, Virgil, he had rescued the soul of a dead senator (who the world believed was still alive) off a weird insect hybrid train after battling a grim reaper type. They then teamed up with a strange local who offered to guide them. It sounds absurd and yet the mythology always works. As we venture through this hellscape of purgatory we learn more about Virgil (hey flashback), the danger he’s in, and the deepening mystery he’s caught up in.
We even learn a bit more about the senator. He’s a great addition as he is the one character who isn’t really up on crime, demons or technology, the driving forces of the world (ah if only he had read the dossier more closely). He’s a literal lost soul in this world and reacts in ways I think many of us might do when faced with such a strange and crazy world. I mean when you can’t tell if something is a giant bug or not who wouldn’t panic, just a little?
Then there’s Taj who back in the human world is still trying to cover Virgil’s tracks and keep their superiors from uncovering his whereabouts. She’s not helped in this endeavour by Wil Brode who’s brought in to ‘help’. He’s a tech but one who operates on a whole different level of secrecy to that which even Taj is used to. I liked the introduction of tension into Taj’s part of the book. It’s nice that she isn’t forgotten just because Virgil is off doing his thing and she still has a part to play in the mystery.
Speaking of the mystery we learn more, hunches are confirmed and we get some idea that there’s something really big going on. We knew there was a cover-up by the higher ups and we get confirmation this issue that something is rotten at the core of the Hellcops. Virgil is no closer to clearing his name, but it seems as if there are enemies hunting him and allies that may help or hinder. I very much like the way things are unfolding. The pace isn’t too rushed. There’s more of a drip feed going on which works really well.
It also means we have plenty of time to get character insight, appreciate the characters and the world. There’s a fun mystery going on but there’s so much more besides.
I have a few favourite moments and details but one of my favourites made me just laugh out loud with joy. Flying pigs. Literal flying pigs. I just… perfection. I love those little things. The Mawzes were another favourite seemingly a cross between Audrey II from Little Shop Of Horrors and the worms from Tremors. Only the power of hell can defeat them, rather than Virgil’s more conventional gun.
The designs are very good indeed. The petrified giants graveyard is suitably creepy. The entire dimension evokes the American Wild West but with a fantasy twist and both sit very easily with each other. I quite like the art and the weird semi-realism that you get with digital art. It especially works as we have a dimension that is separate to our own, full of strange demonic beings and well, yeah, flying pigs. That sheen of slight dream-like quality really nicely fits with that.
This issue really does dig deeper into the mystery and characters and expands on both really well. There’s tension and danger as our heroes inch closer to understanding the depth of what’s going on, though the why might still elude them. It’s a well paced move forward through… well, hell. Plus literal flying pigs. What’s not to like?