The Dark and Bloody #4 Review


Last month’s instalment in this ever improving horror saga saw a bevy of big moments which finally added some fuel to the fire of this story. It was something that the book has been desperately needing and the issue was just about perfect. With that in mind, could that good work continue into this issue?

As you’ll hopefully be aware, Shiloh’s friend Ayah was revealed to be the shadowy monster that has been stalking Iris and his military brethren. It was a move that finally gave a face to the terror that had been lurking on the periphery since the very beginning of this series and the fact that it was such a familiar face to readers only served to ramp up the tension even further as you got the sense that this monster could easily strike out at any moment. For a book that is undoubtedly about tension rather than out and out brutality or terror, that made for a very wise creative decision.

In issue four that is built upon very well as Shawn Aldridge keeps her close to Shiloh, leaving the reader wondering whether she will punish him for his father’s misdoings. The wisest decision made though is the one to keep her in the background still. The temptation for some writers would have been to push the monster to the fore of the story now that it has its face but to so would have made no sense for such a stoic and clandestine figure. Ayah, or rather the creature that inhabits her, is not the Jason Voorhees type who kicks down the front door and charges you but is rather the type who exists on the edge of what is occurring, striking when it is convenient.

For the time that Ayah is not on the page though there is no let-up in the excellent characterisation and plot development. Iris’ family continues to be focal point of this series and they give a potentially quite aloof and detached character some much needed grounding, in turn making him more relatable to the audience at large. His struggles feel natural in an unnatural setting and that is really the crux of good horror, you need to have a strong protagonist to latch onto or the actions of the antagonist are entirely meaningless. Both his wife and son serve to humanise him as well as provide him with something to lose. The stakes are never higher than when a person’s family is put in the line of fire and the audience can understand such a predicament and root for Iris in an organic fashion.

The only sticking point in an otherwise superbly written comic is the addition of Iris’ boss and former commanding officer. He is far too much of a pantomime villain and seems to be doing evil things simply for the sake of villainy. He has no discernable motive beyond basic jackassery and that doesn’t make for a compelling antagonist at all. He needs to be humanised a little or done away with entirely as he currently offers nothing to the story.

In terms of the art, it appears that this is the issue where Scott Godlewski has really been able to shine. That’s not to say that he hasn’t been excellent up to this point, he has, but it is just far more noticeable how talented he is when he is given the opportunity to draw the series’ monster in glorious detail. The transformative scenes are equal parts grotesque and fascinating, making an image that is hard to look away from. As usual his character and scenery work is on point as one would expect it to be given the consistency shown in this series.

With the exception of one character based misstep, this is a very good comic book. Once the series is finished and is available to read in one go it will certainly flow better but it is not suffering from the month long gaps either. If you’re looking for a gripping horror story with intelligent writing and captivating art, then this is the book for you.

Score: 9.5/10

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The Dark and Bloody #4 Review

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