Comic Review - Winter City

Winter City is great, really great. This is the kind of indie comic book that leaves you wondering "why the hell isn't this being published by the big guys?". Initially I wondered if the quality would slip after the first issue where first impressions can make or break a series, especially an indie one. Thankfully, it actually goes from strength to strength.

"During the coldest winter on record, in one of the country's most corrupt cities, seven men will die. Every sin has a price and Sam Winters is coming to collect.

No longer the man he was, no longer a husband, no longer a father. Sam has fallen over the edge of sanity and into a dark, twisted reality where he truly believes he is Death incarnate on a mission to claim the blood debt from the evil that is destroying the world.

As Sam Winters claims his vengeful retribution from the vile criminals who destroyed everything that mattered, Sam's sociopathic tendencies are revealed through a retrospective look into an abusive childhood, a violent adolescence, and a nurturing love affair that ends in a climactic tragedy.

Winter City is a twelve part, suspenseful, thrilling crime drama that takes the reader deep into the damaged mind of a psychopathic vigilante and uncovers the truth behind his twisted quest for revenge."

Winter City feels very Spawn-ish, both in subject matter and artistically. Although I can't confirm this fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised if artist Pablo Verdugo Munoz was heavily influenced by Todd McFarlane's art style. Regardless of where the inspiration comes, Munoz absolutely nails it. It's not often that one reads an independent book only to think that the art looks even BETTER than some of the books out there on comic shop shelves. Munoz captures the dark and brooding neo-noir world that writers Patrick and Carl Purcell created with the finesse of a seasoned cinematographer. His use of angle and perspective give the kind of dynamic feeling that is usually reserved for celluloid. The Reaper-esque main character is not entirely original in design but this is a fact that can be forgiven in return for top notch execution (no pun intended). On top of the fantastic pencils are some equally fantastic colours. The reason that so many indie books are black and white is because colouring is notoriously difficult to do but thankfully, Winter City does it and does it bloody well.

The Purcell brothers have created a book which looks and feels like Sam and Twitch, Se7en and Spawn all rolled into one. The Reaper himself is a classic archetypal antihero who is equal parts Rorschach and Dexter Morgan, topping bad guys without batting an eyelid (he has a skull face, no eyelids!). As far as characters go, he may not be entirely original but his back story is well balanced which allows the reader enough empathy for this stone cold blooded killer. There are a few set pieces introduced in the first 2 issues that help motor the story along, fleshing out the main protagonist and his back story while also introducing who will undoubtedly be the series antagonists, a pair of hard-nosed detectives. The first issues of this series are very, very promising and I get the feeling that the opening salvo is showing just a glimpse into the insanity yet to come.

It is very hard to fault this book at all. The art is great, the storyline engrossing and the overall package better polished than I was expecting (if I'm to be completely honest). The only concern that I have is that it is rather slow moving, especially for a book which is being released only twice per year. While I was lucky enough to read the first 3 issues back to back, the average punter may want a little more meat to tide them over. While you can only fit so much on a page, Frank Miller's Batman: Year One shows that a large amount of story can be told in a small space. Realistically, how can I expect these guys to do something as well as the legendary Frank Miller? Answer: I can't. 

Winter City is a fantastic horror, hack n' slash book that deftly delivers a handful or horror genre conventions. This is a book that can be compared to any professionally published comic book on the shelves today and still hold its own. The worst thing about this book is the delay between issues but that, sadly, can't be helped. Winter City is fantastic, I loved ever blood spattered page.

Winter City issues 1-4 are available now from the Winter City website.


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