"Redneck #2" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Donny Cates
Illustrated by Lisandro Estherren
Colored by Dee Cunniffe
2017, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on May 24th, 2017
The Bowman family has found a new life in Sulphur Springs. They run a BBQ joint, stay under the radar, and have each other. When something awful happens and one of their own is taken from them in a horrific fashion, it's all JV can do to hold his family together and protect his loved ones from the terror and anguish that is barreling towards them.
Writer Donny Cates excels at creating real, relatable characters. Whether it's a cyborg girl from the future, a senile old man with a talking sword, or in this case, a family of vampires, you forget their otherworldly aspects for a moment as you're pulled into their lives. Redneck is no different. The bulk of this issue shows how each member is mourning the death of young Slap. JV is trying to keep his other boys in quarantine for fear as to what they might do once the sun goes down. He's seen death before and he understands what that really means.
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This is illustrated in a beautiful sequence by artist Lisandro Estherren. It's presented with no dialogue, but it speaks volumes. JV places a small box containing Slap's fangs next to an identical box near a photo of him and a smiling woman. You can read so much into these few panels. They create a very somber tone. You just want to give the guy a hug. Again, this is a vampire we're talking about.
This is matched with Dee Cunniffe's colors. Since it's the daytime, the interior shots are all in shadow. The Bowmans have boarded up their windows to avoid dying in the sunlight. It's these dark scenes that allow for each of the characters to mourn in their own way. When the story takes them outside once again, it's in brutal light to the point where you can practically feel the heat beating down on you. Somehow, it's the people that walk in the daylight that are scarier than the vampires cooped up inside.
While Estherren's character designs are natural, there are occasional moments where they look rather cartoonish. This is especially true with JV. At times, he looks like a fat version of Yosemite Sam, which makes him look humorous, though I'm sure this was not the desired intent. There are also several frames where the characters look flat, like they are just part of the background instead of moving people.
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The Bowman home is like a powder keg and the fuse gets shorter with each turn of the page. This coincides with the setting of the sun. Bartlett even comments about how they'd have more time to figure out their next steps if it was summer since the days are longer then. They do not have that luxury here, despite the Southern heat. Once that sun sets, there is little JV or Bartlett can do to stop the chaos set to reign down upon the town. So much so that when night falls, he looks sad, like he's tried all he can and despite his best efforts, it's still not enough. It's simultaneously heartbreaking and terrifying when you realize what that means. The vampires are coming.
Redneck is an incredible comic that humanizes a family of vampires. It reads like a compelling family drama with real emotion, then escalates into pure, unbridled horror when the fangs come out. Things are going to get a lot worse before they get better and I am absolutely pulled in, hook, line, and sinker.