by Carl R. Jansson
Joe Hill has done it again, unleashing a truly nasty tale of three convicts on their way to the joint that goes horribly wrong. This time around Charlie Talent Manx III is not the focus, but the end of the road for these despicable characters. While still expanding on the world of his novel, NOS4A2, this series remains accessible to new readers, and is a great jumping on point for those who missed the previous issue.
Hill excels at these sorts of horror tales, proving to be as much a master as his father time and time again, and this tale is no different. His horror is of the very human variety, and he deftly shows that the horrific is inside each of us just waiting to get out. Denis Sykes, he of the forked tongue carnival geek persuasion, is a truly evil man, but Agnes and Kevin, the officers doing the driving prove to be just as nasty. These are truly wicked people who have done, and will continue to do, wicked things.
The story moves fluidly and quickly, with a lot of great dialogue along the away keeping it moving along. Joe Hill is a master when it comes to dialogue, his characters all have unique voices, and speak the way everyday people do. This issue sees the dialog taking a more crude and mean spirited tone, especially as Denis talks about Kevin’s wife and the child he lost. It is also much less subdued with its violence and gore than the previous issue. There weren’t as many twist this issue, at least ones I didn’t see coming, but honestly, the story didn’t need them. It proceeded to its logical conclusion, setting up what is to come.
CP Wilson III brings his unique talents to the table yet again, gorgeously bringing Hill’s unpleasant story to awful life on the page. His Denis is menacing, with an aura of malevolence, and a killer smile. He doesn’t skimp on backgrounds, each panel feels full to bursting, and his sense of storytelling is fantastic as he moves Hill’s story along swiftly. The coloring by Jay Fotos really make the images pop off the page, the gorier scenes practically wet with blood.
If you like your comics a bit on the nasty side, you can’t do much better than Wraith. The story is fantastic and unusual, and you never quite know where it’s going to go. This is a seriously good looking book, from front cover to back, and every player is putting in their best work. It’s just a shame it’s only a miniseries, as I don’t want it to end.