Murder, Magic, And Mayhem: Redlands Vol. 1

by Brendan M. Allen

A mysterious and bloodthirsty matriarchal force runs the town of Redlands, Florida, and in order to stay on top, sacrifices must be made. Someone is intent on removing these women from the top of the food chain, and he’s ready to unleash their darkest secret but has seriously underestimated the lengths the townspeople will go to protect the new order of things. Inspired by the strange complexities of real-world politics and crime, the characters of REDLANDS play victim and villain, attempting to understand themselves and others through murder, magic, and mayhem.

Redlands opens in the middle of an ominous scene. In front of a police station at night, a huge tree is engulfed in flame. Three empty nooses sway from a thick branch. The police are barricaded inside the station, terrified for their lives. The three witches whose attempted lynching kicked off this chain of events weren’t ready to go gently into that good night. Initially, you feel bad for the trapped police force, until you realize they’re mostly horrible people.

Jordie Bellaire definitely wanted to set a tone from the very first sequence. The pacing is brilliant. Bellaire doesn’t ever explicitly lay out the events that led us here. She leaves little breadcrumbs here and there, and if you pay attention, you can sort some of it out. Some bad men did bad things, and they’re about to get their comeuppance.

Vanesa Del Rey’s raw, gritty pencils build a frenetic level of tension in an already unsettling turn of events. The ultra-violence comes hard and fast. The imagery impressively blurs the lines between terrifying and sexy, bold and subtle, grotesque and beautiful.

It goes without saying Jordie Bellaire colored the hell outta this thing. You can feel the heat coming off that tree. Fire is hard to draw and harder to color. Reflections of fire licking glass window panes, with shadows playing on the faces of the characters on the other side of the glass? Are you kidding me?
There are an awful lot of fantastic horror comics on the shelf right now. Interestingly, several of them are focusing on a Southern Gothic theme. Moonshine had werewolf bootleggers. Redneck has its hillbilly East Texas vampires. Redlands throws its hat in the ring with modern day witches in the Everglades. Redlands is a gripping story that will satisfy readers of horror and crime procedurals.

Redlands Vol. 1, published by Image Comics. Releases 04 April 2018. Story and art by Jordie Bellaire & Vanesa Del Rey. Letters by Clayton Cowles.

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