The comics industry is a hard one to break into. A person has to be a master storyteller, and able to convey a lot points in as few words as possible. What happens once they make it? They write about fifty year old characters and have to stay in certain parameters so the character can still make money. But the ever-growing field of creator owned work is the future of comics. Winter City, a comic from Australia, shows a lot of potential for everyone involved. It just needs some tweaks.
This review covers Winter City #1-#3. It’s an ongoing series.
The plot involves a character named….well we don’t know his name. He’s a character that is referred too as the Devil, but the reader isn’t given an official name. He’s killing fat cats, but we don’t know his real motivation. There are two officers who are investigating the murders of the Devil. Flash back to years ago, and we see the rough upbringing of a boy named Sam Winters. He’s living a hard life. He’s abandoned by his mother, doesn’t know who his father is, and lives with his abusive uncle. It’s strongly hinted that Sam Winters is the Devil.
Winter City shares a lot of similarities with popular characters at the big two publishers. Not necessarily a bad thing, but one that becomes apparent as the story goes on. Think Batman meets the Punisher meets…Spawn? Ok Spawn isn’t at the big two. The story is interesting enough, but the reader isn’t given enough information about what is going on. The two officers don’t get much in the way of characterization, but are likable. We don’t know why these rich men deserve to die. But this is a drawback to only reading three issues.
The one thing that stuck with me about Winter City was the atmosphere. Carl and Patrick Purcell have created the most depressing comic I have read. Much like Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, none of these characters have redeeming qualities, except for Sam. Every person is bad to their core, even if they “are doing it for the better of another person.” I put the first issue down and felt sad. But I picked up the second issue right away. Then picked up the third. It’s not a perfect story, as the writers seems to self-indulgent. Since they know what is coming next in the story, they don’t feel the need to drop hints about the future. It’s a rookie mistake, and one that will fix itself in time. Even when every character is an asshole, some redeeming qualities would be nice. A branch of hope to hold onto throughout the darkness. With a little work, these two could be great writers.
Pablo Verdugo Munoz pencils all three issues. American readers will notice a similarity to Ryan Stegman’s (Scarlet Spider) style. It’s a grimy world and Munoz conveys that perfectly. Winter City, the city, feels lived in. It feels a lot like Gotham, but any crime ridden city in comics is going too. The Devil has an otherworldly look to him that never gets old to look at. The violence is brutal, and worthy of the parental advisory mark on the front. Munoz pencils these quick brutal scenes in a way that hits the reader as hard as the person who is getting killed. Faces need some work, but only in the flashback scenes. Munoz nails every facial feature in the present scenes, but characters seem like they are out of an anime in the flashbacks. He uses the panel structures like a champ, changing up the lines separating panels when they fit the story well. Even when he uses some unorthodox panel structure, the panels guide the reader along well. Munoz has a great career ahead of him.
Winter City shows a lot of promise. Part of me wants to read a few more issues, to see how these plot threads play out. But only if the problems start to work themselves out. If you are looking for a book that is off the beaten path, check Winter City out.
Winter City #1-#3 get 3.5/5.
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