Winter City is a twelve part horror thriller from the land down under. Australia may not be well known for its independent comic book scene, but with books like this they certainly should be. This review will cover the first quarter of the series, consisting of issues one through three. First and foremost, the three issues are slick, well constructed and grab your attention from the get go. So let’s jump straight with a brief summary of each installment.
- Issue one opens in dramatic cinematic style with the press reporting on a downtown murder. The news broadcast sets the tone for a city that is full of corruption and murder, where the innocent suffer and the rich get richer. After the opening newscast, wealthy businessman Alan McLean is brutally murdered in his own home. It quickly becomes clear to Detectives Daniels and Harvey that things are not what they seem when an eye witness claims she saw the Grim Reaper at the murder scene.
- Issue two opens with another murder in the same vein as the first. This time the victim is rich playboy Franklin Skyles. Again witnesses claim to have seen the Grim Reaper. The detectives suspect a serial killer is on the loose. The trail leads the Detectives to Edward Smittz, founder and chairman of Smittzen Holdings.
- Issue three starts to open up and gives us the first hint that there is some kind of common link between the victims and that these killings are not random at all. The primary targets are members of the city’s business elite. Eye witnesses once again start to blame the Grim Reaper and the media speculates about the possibility of hired hits. Detective Daniels still hasn’t found any conclusive evidence and Donald Swanson becomes victim number three.
The series was created by Patrick Purcell, who is co-writing it with Carl Purcell. The world they have created is dark and macabre, with terror looming on every street corner and behind every ghetto door. The characters are very well constructed, and the pairing of a gritty detective with a novice rookie has been pulled off without seeming clichéd. The story is multi-layered and there are flashbacks of the abandonment of a young boy called Sam Winters and his brutal upbringing by his uncle Norman. It is not clear yet how this relates to the current narrative, but I am sure all will become clear as the story marches on. There is one of these flashbacks in each issue so far, and each one shows further insight to the youth’s troubled upbringing. The dialogue in the book is all good and contextually appropriate. The lettering was also done by creator Patrick Purcell. The choice of speech balloons and fonts are all spot on and the placement does not interfere with the artwork at all.
The artwork by Pablo Verdungo Munoz is outstanding. The choices of panel shapes and placements are those of an industry professional. The line art is fantastic, with a breathtaking level of detail and never once is it unclear what is happening. Even without the text you would be able to follow the story, and that is a real feat. The characters are very well drawn and the perspectives are all spot on. The action (of which there is plenty) really shines through.
The colors by David Aravena Riquelme complement the artwork perfectly. The colors add depth, grit and grime to the city and really bring the characters to life. There is a subtle contrast with the flash back scenes, but this could also be down more to the fact that they are based in rural farmland as oppose to the urban jungle of the city.
Overall this is one of the most polished independent titles I have seen and I really couldn’t fault it. You can read the whole of the first issue and seven page previews of the others here. Digital and print copies of all three issues are available directly from their website. There’s also lots more info and other cool stuff on the site for you to enjoy. This title really can knock spots off of some mainstream books, and any fan of horror comics should check it out. I for one can’t wait to read the rest of the series and I am sure the trade paperback will be a big hit.