"Red Angel Dragnet: Volume 1 – Lose This Skin" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Written by Eric Palicki
Illustrated by Anna Wieszczyk
2015, 98 Pages
There's a supernatural world lurking just below our own. It exists in the shadows, around the edges of our reality. It's here that creatures like demons and vampires lie in wait while we go about our daily lives. Nate Reed can see into this world after a terrifying experience five years ago. Since then, he's turned his very body into a weapon to combat the forces of evil. When several mysterious corpses turn up, Nate is pulled into an investigation that could cost him his life.
At first you may look at Red Angel Dragnet and think that it's another in a long line of supernatural detective stories. You will quickly find that it is so much more than that. For one thing, Nate isn't really a detective. He's an antique bookseller. The demon hunting is something he does in his spare time, like a deadly hobby. He's quickly become an expert on all things that go bump in the night.
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Nate has a stark determination when it comes to eliminating demons. He has no hesitation and will stop at nothing to destroy them, even if it means getting himself in trouble with the local law enforcement. This is an evil that must be put down. He faces some truly horrifying creatures that would make normal men quiver in fear.
You have to hand it to artist Anna Wieszczyk for turning the creep factor up to eleven. One of the first monsters that Nate encounters is a woman's corpse with every orifice sewed up, making her look like a rag doll. This was unsettling enough until she sits up suddenly and slowly pulls the stitches out of her face. She's nude, but nothing about her is sexy. Her body is shriveled and lanky. Her fingers look extended, like claws. Her teeth are razor sharp. This is a monster and it's just the beginning of the madness that Nate comes across in this volume.
Writer Eric Palicki drops you right into this world. You get a one-page intro to Nate to get a glimpse as to what happened to him to open his eyes to the darkness around him, but it's not an overblown origin story. Instead, he fleshes out Nate's past over the course of the book organically, filling in details as needed. This makes the story flow much better and by that point, you really care about the character so hearing about his background becomes more important that just diving into it from page one.
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Instead of pulling from a variety of tricks and spells, Nate takes power from his own body. You get a quick glance of him as he's woken up in the beginning of the book, so you see that his torso is covered in strange tattoos. With these in place, Nate has captured a demon, using his body as a cage. He's able to draw on its power, providing him with a powerful yet deadly set of skills. This creates a near limitless list of ways to combat the forces of evil and Nate handles them deftly.
Red Angel Dragnet can be unnerving in the best way. It can fill you with a sense of dread with each page turn, as you're unsure as to what the creative team will throw at you next. It serves as a great introduction to a world that I would love to see explored further.