"Salem's Daughter" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Zenescope Entertainment
Written by Ralph Tedesco & Raven Gregory
Illustrated by Caio Menescal, Caio Reis, Andres Carranza, and Roberto Viacava
2010, 166 Pages, $15.99
Trade Paperback released on May 17th, 2011
The Salem Witch Trials are among the most famous events in American history. They're also among the most gruesome. What if one of those women that were executed all those years ago was actually a witch? Salem's Daughter isn't exactly that idea, but it's an interesting take on it. It's basically a supernatural western, where a young girl named Anna finds that she has mysterious powers that she can't fully control. She's aided by a cowboy named Cole who's out for revenge against a demon who killed his family. The demon has an interest in Anna, but for an unknown reason. The unlikely pair ends up helping people along the way as they track down the evil doer.
These issues set the ground work for what could be an excellent monthly comic but Zenescope's publishing of the title has been a little spotty. This trade collects the original 5 issue mini-series. They're currently publishing a follow up series called Salem's Daughter: The Haunting so hopefully we get a bit more of Anna's story. As it stands, we're not given much of an origin behind her powers or what they're intended for. Cole is no closer to getting his ultimate revenge but he seems to get some closure by bringing justice along for the ride. After the origin story is set up, Anna and Cole investigate the disappearance of some children and the Jersey Devil followed by a run-in with a Succubus. The former is my favorite of the three as it presents some intriguing moral dilemmas from the townsfolk. It also has a big monster which is always fun.
The art in Salem's Daughter is a little uneven. A total of four artists contributed work to the project, some more skilled than others. Caio Reis opens the book with a gritty style that fits the western element very well. His work gets into a lot of detail, which is great for the shootout that gets the story going. Andres Carranza picks up the art for the second issue, but he cannot fill the shoes of Reis as his pencils look rather flat and lack the detail of Reis'. Similarly, Roberto Viacava's art for the next issue is mediocre at best, but he makes up for it in the art direction with some very creative panel layouts. He continues in the Jersey Devil story that follows the original arc and his artwork improves drastically. I couldn't tell it was the same artist. Unlike the previous creators, Viacava gets to play with some monsters and corpses. Caio Menescal closes out the book on the Succubus story. His style looks a little darker which helps with the overall tone of the plot.
Salem's Daughter is an interesting take on the supernatural western. It could easily be turned into a weekly TV show with Anna and Cole solving mysteries with each episode. There are a lot of unanswered questions with this trade that I would have liked to have seen explored a bit more, such as who the demon is and what his plan is for Anna. I just hope that Zenescope gets deeper into this story.