Rogue. Hawkeye. Magneto. Madder Red. Comics are filled with villains who turn hero. Rarely is a story about a bad guy going good, well, this good.
Bedlam #9, written by Nick Spencer, pencilled by Ryan Browne and colored by Jean-Paul Csuka from Image Comics, is unleashed this week. Fillmore Press is still assisting the police in a case that has otherwise normal people committing heinous crimes. These people are making irrational decisions and it's up to Fillmore to get into the head of whoever is controlling them.
We open with a flashback of Madder Red in less happier days. He's taken over a restaurant and is murdering indiscriminately. Spencer writes Red's dialogue as witty and filled with clever puns. When he is told to let his server go, his response is, "Well I dunno if she should get fired for it." It then cuts to 12 years later and the police with Fillmore's help are investigating the freak occurrences. He is making progress as he realizes the public is being subconsciously controlled by public communications. He refers to the easy manipulation of the human brain as sticky tricky. The grimness is broken up with funny scenes of The First, Bedlam's first and only masked protector, arguing with his mother.
Frazer Irving's cover is creepy as he has Fillmore smiling while jumping off a skyscraper. The shadow he casts is that of Madder Red while bodies trail behind him. The only splash of colors are the pinks of the sky and lettering, with light teal in the background, and the reader's eye is drawn to the red of Madder Red's eyes.
The pencils by Ryan Browne are very loose and raw, mimicking the chaotic nature of Madder Red and the world he left behind. It would almost be like Lemire’s artwork if he was able to draw more than one facial design. This is all complimented by Csuka’s brilliant color designs. The sole color choice in the flashback scene is red, highlighting the design of Madder Red’s costume and the blood of his victims. Major color themes throughout the rest of the book include blues and oranges, contrasting the recurring red theme splashed throughout. The bright daylight scenes showcase the heroic nature of The First.
There are quite a few books on the stands with a villain turned hero but not many have the creepy factor of Bedlam. There are also not many written as well as this one. The way Fillmore gets into the villain's brain is uncanny and reminds me of a good drama like Dexter. Bedlam #9 is a book about choices and freedoms and the consequences of your actions.