"Sons of the Devil: Volume 1" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Originally published as Sons of the Devil #1 - #5
Written by Brian Buccellato
Illustrated by Toni Infante
2015, 148 Pages
Trade Paperback released on December 8th, 2015
Travis has had a tough life. Growing up, he was bounced around from foster home to foster home. Now he's struggling to keep a job as a mechanic and prevent his understanding girlfriend from leaving him. It turns out Travis is the son of a crazed cult leader with ties to some pretty devilish beliefs. He's got to figure out where he came from if he hopes to get on with his life. Unfortunately for him and everyone around him, he's kind of an asshole.
Travis seems to have good intentions, however he's rather misguided. We first see him helping a little boy find his way home. When his boss gives him shit for being late, he head butts the guy and storms off. An old friend shows him a lead to his birth parents and Travis blows him off. He definitely has a problem with authority or anyone telling him what to do in any way.
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When he gets this information about his birth father, he keeps it from his girlfriend, despite the fact that she seems incredibly supportive. She has the patience of a saint to deal with his crap on the regular. This is where Travis takes a turn into the unlikable territory. His situation doesn't justify his asshole behavior, which makes it tough to care about his story.
The thing is that his story is pretty friggin' interesting. Sons of the Devil often jumps back in time, showing Travis's mother's attempts to escape the cult and keep him safe from the leader; a charismatic man named David. This is a fascinating tale that grips you from the beginning. Writer Brian Buccellato doesn't show these scenes in order. The opening pages of the book feature a few women fleeing with the children from the cult and the bloody aftermath that's left when someone tries to stop them.
This scene in particular helps set the tone of Sons of the Devil. It's a brutal beating and artist Toni Infante alternates the panels between the hulk of a man swinging a hammer and close-ups of infant Travis, his mismatched eyes starring wide at the bloodshed. The hammer keeps swinging down, each time landing with a solid “THUK” leaving a mess of gore on the ground.
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Travis gets slowly wrapped up in this mystery of his lineage. There are some unknown forces pulling strings around him. He's meant to serve some higher purpose in the eyes of the cult, but that's definitely not what Travis has planned for his life. There are hints at some supernatural elements with the cult. It's unclear as to the scope of these, but it's clear that the worshippers are willing to pay their tithes in blood.
Infante has a style that fits the book well. His pencils are sharp with no round edges. The colors are a bit faded, as if they were washed out by the harsh California sun. It gives the comic a feeling of a beach noir story, which is certainly a fitting genre.
Sons of the Devil is a great mystery comic first and foremost. It explores themes of destiny and family and how the two are intertwined. There are many moving pieces orbiting around Travis and his life, each more intriguing than the last. He's getting pulled deeper and deeper into this spiral at the cost of everything around him. I've got to find out where this rabbit hole goes.