By Victor Ocasio
Based on the pro-wrestling persona of Brimstone and fellow wrestlers and a plot centralized around the underworld, I had no idea what to expect as I read issue #1 of “Brimstone and the Borderhounds.” I was pleasantly surprised.
This isn’t Brimstone’s first venture into the world of comic books, but it certainly has created quite a stir among the community since its release this Halloween, hailing such attention from comic greats like Jim Lee.
Out of all the elements in this issue, possibly the most impressive is its story. It is a new and innovative take on a popular genre of comics, making itself the best parts of “Hellboy” and early ’90s classics.
Technologies from other worlds have allowed large powerful corporations, namely the “Intra-dimensional trans-reality bio-etheric retail corporation,” to probe the realm we know as Hell. Shrouded in mystery are those responsible and in charge of the various methods of soul acquisition.
A “sorting hat” of sorts (too many sorts, Russell), known as the Nexus, selects prime candidates for work as slave labor for unknown forces holding stock in this trans-dimensional business. Oh, and all these slave workers have already died once. That’s pretty important.
The first issue takes readers step by step through the whole soul-herding process while instilling a sense that not all is as it appears to be, introducing characters such as “Mr. Hostile,” a homicidal maniac who even after his supposed execution has gripped New York city in a vice of fear in the wake of a series of ritualistic killings.
Couple this with the activities going on in hell, and you have two intriguing story lines set in different worlds that look distinct yet seem connected somehow. Hopefully we will found out how they are connected in future issues.
In almost a throwback to ancient mythology, Chavez Raoul, DJ to the damned, welcomes incoming floating freighters of souls similarly to the way in which Charon rowed the barges across the River Styx of Hades.
With so many souls being rushed to Hell daily, certain aid is needed to ensure that all “company property” is accounted for. This is where the Borderhounds come in.
Whenever a soon-to-be slave, or “weeper,” escapes and flees to the wastelands of Hell, Brimstone and his partners jump into action. Working for the Border Enforcement and Retrieval Department, they are paid in turn for each living slave captured. They are bounty hunters from Hell, need I say more?
My biggest criticism of the comic’s premiere deals heavily with overall layout and design.
Although writers Carnevali and Brimstone follow the standard of comic paneling in page layout, key decisions in dialogue box placement and artistic direction make character interactions confusing and hard to follow at times. Most dialogue is straightforward enough, but a few minor hiccups break the focus of conversations – leaving readers disconnected from the story.
Aside from that, the series has a lot of potential to develop a large reader base of hardcore fans who enjoy both wrestling and comics.
Issue two of the series, which has been set at four issues, will hopefully delve more deeply into the background of other characters such as Detective Billy Altar, the officer in charge of handling Mr Hostile’s trail of murders.
Overall, “Brimstone and the Borderhounds” is a comedic work of magnum opus proportion in the making and readers looking for an original new series should look no further for this must-read.