The fifth arc of Redneck begins with a nearly silent chapter that kicks this whole vampire gig back to the very beginning. Aside from several biblical quotes, there are exactly seven written words. Not quite silent, but close enough.
Aside from the obvious fact that vampirism has been tied to that Jesus fella a few times before, as far as I know, Donny Cates has found a fresh angle. Judas, we’ve seen. Nicodemus? That’s new. Demus, turns out, is the biblical Nicodemus, a Pharisee, and a member of the Sanhedron.
Demus was a rich and powerful dude who ended up helping embalm Jesus after his crucifixion. In the process, he ended up with a vessel of Jesus’ claret, which he then consumed… as you do. And apparently, when you take communion straight from the source, there are side effects.
Lisandro Estherren and Dee Cunniffe continue to absolutely destroy this thing. The art team is essentially given the reins to tell the entire story in the opening chapter, and there is no doubt, at any point in these pages, exactly what is happening. That’s a huge credit to the art team, and shows a lot of trust between all the members of this creative team.
Estherren’s loose, gritty pencils and Cunnife’s muted palette have always brought an aesthetic that is simultaneously beautiful and appalling. Further into the book, we get a few doses of historical gore. Granpa’s origin story is one of the most horrific campaigns in European history. Death, dismemberment, and mutilation. Right in these fellas’ wheelhouse.
If you remember way, way back when this thing kicked off, we were just looking in on a tiny little peaceful family of vampires tucked away in East Texas. Each successive arc widened the shot, showing just how ancient and influential these Bowmans really are, and how much impact they’ve had over the course of human history.
I mean, you kind of had to know Granpa was a badass from his appearance, the way he talked to JV and the boys, and his violent and bloody last stand at the Bowman homestead. This dude had seen some shit. And if you’ve been reading Red-Blooded Mail at the back of every issue, Cates has hinted, oh, I don’t know, about a thousand times that Granpa was headed back into the story, one way or another.
This thing is definitely headed in a direction. It just isn’t the direction I signed up for back in 2017. I miss the backwoods rednecked homeyness that made the series stand out back then. So much heart. Family. Loyalty. Drinking antifreeze and shooting cans off the porch. Blood feuds with the local sinister minister. Bar fights and BBQ joints.
I just don’t see how we’re going to end up back there from here, so I think this is my stop.
Redneck Vol. 5, Image Comics/Skybound Entertainment, 28 April 2021. Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Lisandro Estherren, color by Dee Cunniffe, letters by Joe Sabino.
Redneck has lost a lot of the heart it came out with back in 2017. Without the bar fights and BBQ joints, this has become a very standard, run of the mill vampire story. Aside from the fantastic art, it’s serviceable, but not what I signed up for.