"The Showdown: Volume 2" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Written by Russ Lippitt
Illustrated by Ezequiel Pineda
2017, 65 Pages
After introducing the wide variety of monstrous contestants, the race out of Hell begins in The Showdown: Volume 2. The winners get to return to earth, so these creatures are willing to risk it all and stop at nothing for that prize. The drivers must get through each level of Hell in order to complete the race. There are no real rules, so it turns into more of a demolition derby with a whole lot of murder.
Where the first volume of The Showdown spends almost all of its time showcasing each of the many drivers, this one is all race. It literally picks up right where the last book leaves off. What's odd is that the cars are so separated so early. It seems like they're split up between different levels of Hell, although they all just started the race, so they can't be that far away from one another. This makes for more one-on-one style combat as teams square off against one another instead of against the overall herd.
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This creates a very formulaic story. We see a new level of Hell and the cars driving within it. They fight. One of them leaves. Repeat. It goes on like that for six or seven times, each with a different pairing. Although this all looks pretty cool, it gets tiresome.
The variety of characters is rather impressive, especially since just about every type of monster is represented. This makes it tough for you to care about any one character or group, as no one gets time to really develop. Granted, we get some of this in the first volume, but that suffers from the same problems, as it crams a very large cast into a small area. As the herd thins, this may be alleviated. I guess you could just pick your favorite type of creature and root for them.
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Artist Ezequiel Pineda has a different style than Tony Guaraldi-Brown, the artist of the previous book, however it's fitting for the content. I like that most pages feature a strange, decayed-looking background instead of the traditional white of the page, as if the images are literally ripped from Hell itself.
Pineda expands upon the monsters in the race by adding others that are presented as obstacles along the track. These include magnificent winged serpents, shuffling corpses, and a train made of flesh and bone. That last one is like something out of a heavy metal music video.
The Showdown has a fantastic premise that's like a classic exploitation film set in Hell. Unfortunately, it feels rather disjointed, as it's broken up into three separate graphic novels whereas the first two don't stand on their own as a cohesive story. I think this will flow better once fans get a chance to read the entire tale from beginning to end. As it stands, it feels like a single movie broken up into three segments. It's not like a trilogy in that case. Imagine going to a theater to see a film, but only getting the first half hour, then having to come back later to watch the next half hour, and so on. That can be more than a little frustrating.