Written and Colored By: Jordie Bellaire
Art By: Vanesa R. Del Rey, Jordie Bellaire, Clayton Cowles
Published By: Image Comics
Release Date: October 11, 2017
Redlands, in its first two issues, has already set itself apart as one of the absolute best horror comics of the year. For me, Halloween Season starts September 1st, and Redlands has been the monthly dose of haunting mystery I crave, and Redlands #3 is no exception. If you were hoping to finally figure out what is happening in this swampy Florida nightmare, you are not going to get it here, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. This issue builds on the already beautifully established mystery, murder, and mayhem of the previous glimpses into this world, and introduces more intriguing, ominous threads winding together in this witchy town.
Redlands #3 breaks away from the first two issues to focus on a few new characters. With a growing cast, and unclear timeline, a mysterious end goal and no obvious protagonist, this comic could easily fall apart at the seams, or be torn open like a hunted doe, entrails spilling into an inconclusive mess. However, Jordie Bellaire is forging a new path for sequential art and storytelling that is like nothing we have seen before in comics. Characters are introduced and lost in an unidentifiable pattern of chaos and murder, new faces show up out of the darkness but somehow carry the weight of their own backstory into each panel, and the mystery unfolds without ever being revealed. This story is terrifying, but you won’t be able to say why. It is mysterious, eerie, and sultry, and to build this story and world, from the ground up, is an incredible feat. Bellaire is hiding all her runes, spells and cards from the readers, and the result is unbearably satisfying.
If you have any familiarity with Vanesa R. Del Rey’s art, you know she is an expert in more erotic art, and Redlands is the perfect venue for this talent. Del Rey manages to meld sex and horror in a way that is natural and enticing. The plot moves quickly and erratically, leaving little time for character introductions or drawn out backstories, but Del Rey infuses each new character with personality. From the opening scene to the very last panel, this is a gorgeous, dynamic, terrifying issue.
The color story continues to develop along with the series. While it remains overall fairly dark, focusing on deep reds and heavy shadows, this makes the brighter scenes stand out even more. The bright, contrasting daylight scenes create a more ominous feel when night falls and mystery lurks in the shadows. Bellaire continues to write to her strengths in coloring, and connect the coloring aspects of the book seamlessly with the overall plot.
In this issue, the backmatter adds another layer to the mystery. The pieced-together newspaper snippets (along with some very useful hunting information) adds depth to the plot. This issue did not leave a lot of room for in-depth character introductions or backstory, and it followed one specific vignette within the overall story. The backmatter helped bridge the gap between this sparse, focused issue and the overarching scheme of the plot, which was very helpful. Though, of course, not helpful enough to discern anything about the future of Redlands or our witches- that is still a mystery.
This issue finally gave me the one thing I wanted most from a Florida based horror story: Gators! The witches are up to some terrible tricks, and new characters are taking the stage. As the plot and cast continue to follow a winding, unexpected path, Redlands is only improving. As far as what will happen next in Redlands… I have no idea. Whatever is coming, it’s bound to be bloody, brave, and beautiful.
The Verdict: 10/10