Every time I read an issue of Bedlam, I tell myself, there’s no way this comic can become more fucked up and depraved, there’s no way it can be anymore uniquely insane and inventive with it’s characters or that it can come up with anything new that breaks the mold of any other comic out and then the next issue comes out and I am wrong again. I keep my expectations of this comic diminished for my own selfish reasons so that, month after month I psych myself out and become blown away all over again by all the curves and twists this comic comes up with.
Nick Spencer, the writer of Bedlam, is a creator that comics in our generation needs, a person who isn’t afraid to push boundaries and has an inventive and original imagination that spews creativity. He is also responsible for the epic mystery comic that is Morning Glories.
This issue of Bedlam is now head deep (no pun intended?) in it’s newest “arc” of the overall continuing story of Madder Red and his alter ego, Fillmore Press. The religious themes are still ever present and still relate to this current storyline, but in more of a flashback capacity in this issue. The flashback in this issue though doesn’t touch on the religious, but hits a different subject matter that coincides with the last issue;s reveal of Madder Red’s archetypal hero adversary’s “secret” identity. Meanwhile, in current day, Fillmore and Detective Acevedo are engulfed in this new investigation into a seemingly random string of violent explosions. They have tracked down and corned the culprit, but all too late, because hundreds have died since this new “villain” has immaculately hypnotized a large population of the city at his whim. Including the cities only hero “The First.” I won’t spoil the end, but the word irony comes to mind with the conclusion of this issue. It’s brilliantly executed and left me more than eager to see what’s next, and also left me saying again, “there’s no way Spencer can top this.”
The most inventive part of the new villain character is the fact that his face is fragmented and pixelated to where the reader can’t decipher his identity either. It makes you feel like you’re a victim of the hypnosis as well just by reading the comic. It’s a great idea that works so well, entrancing the reader into the story.
All hell is breaking loose so you know the finale is just around the corner with this next issue or two tying up this arc.
My god, I had to save talking about the art for last, because, as always, the art for this book is on point, even with Ryan Browne replacing Riley Rossmo. Within the first three pages, there is a brilliant looking splash of Madder Red beating “The First” relentlessly with a baseball bat that just looks so vicious and unrelenting the way its drawn and crafted. This is some of the best work I’ve seen from Browne by far, even better than his stuff on Manhattan Projects. There are 3 pages specifically, including the aforementioned one, that left me blown away. Another one particularly has that Frank Miller Dark Knight Rises feel to the way it’s drawn and executed on page, I dare say… maybe even a slight reference to that famous cover. There’s even a few pages that have a pop art feel that is brilliant.
I love this comic series a lot. I think it’s better than Morning Glories and some of Spencer’s other work, but mostly because it’s super dark but at the same time incredibly ambitious in what it intends to portray, Spencer has a clear vision of what he’s writing here and I cant wait to see where it ends one day.