The Curse of Brimstone Volume 1 – Inferno (2018)
Writer – Justin Jordan
Artists – Philip Tan, Eduardo Pansica, Julio Ferreira, Jose Luis, Inaki Miranda, Daniel Henriques, Denis Cowan, John Stanisci
One Saturday afternoon before going to see Pearl, I stopped at the local library to kill some time before the showing. I was just about to leave when I saw this graphic novel on the shelf and I thought it would be a good read to get me pumped for Halloween.
Joe Chamberlain and his sister Annie live in York Springs. The town is on life support and Joe has a hard time finding a job to help make ends meet for him and his immediate family. When Joe’s truck breaks down one evening, a slick looking man offers him a ride. A brief conversation between Joe and the good Samaritan reveals that Joe wants nothing more than for his hometown to become important once again. The driver of the car can make Joe’s wish come true. All Joe has to do is shake the salesman’s hand and accept their deal. However, the deal takes an unexpected turn and Joe unwittingly becomes the salesman’s newest agent of chaos and evil called Brimstone.
I really wanted to like this comic series but it has too many things working against it. If Curse of Brimstone was released under one of DC Comics’ imprints or an independent comics company, it would have lasted longer than 12 issues. Trying to roll out a “new age of heroes” is hard nowadays but having it tie into the DC Universe makes it even harder. Although superheroes and other locations are teased in the first few issues, it’s not until Issue 4 that its revealed how Brimstone’s creation will impact the DCU and how these events tie-in with Dark Nights Metal. Most of my friends abide by the three-issue rule which states: if a comic doesn’t interest or grab them after the first three issues, they drop it. I can imagine my friends dropping this series almost immediately. It also doesn’t help that you have rotating artists on a brand-new series. I’m not sure why they couldn’t stick with one artist but having so many different artists for six issues made my eyes and head ache. I loved Eduardo Pansica’s art in Issue Four but by Issue Five, it shifted to Jose Luis and Inaki Miranda. Art inconsistency can plague a comic book and this definitely hurt Curse of Brimstone.
So many negatives, there have to be a few positives, right? Well, I love the character design of Brimstone and the creatures he fights over the course of the volume. My favorite part of the volume were Issues 5 and 6. Joe and Annie travel to Marienbad, West Virginia and run afoul of a town overrun by creepy kids, led by Slackjaw. Slackjaw’s design is on brand for a horror comic and I loved it. The main dilemma for Joe and Annie is how to save the children without bringing harm to them.
There is another volume of Curse of Brimstone that collects the last six issues of this series and I’m on the fence whether I want to read it or not.
Some reviews I give a ranking and other times, I don’t. This trade gets a three out of five from me. It’s slightly better than average and I liked the back half of issues better than the first three. It took too long to establish Brimstone’s origin. Once Joe decides to use his powers to stop the evil salesman and his cabal of monsters, the story started to get more interesting, but it seemed too little, too late. If hindsight is 20/20, the New Age of Heroes would have been better off being introduced in the same universe, apart from the DC Universe. After a year, maybe involve them with DC Universe in a crossover event. Alas, we can only wonder what might have been.