Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Slaughterman's Creed review

The most frustrating thing about reading this book is when I was reading it, I couldn’t help thinking that there will be a percentage of people reading this and thinking ‘Guy Ritchie.’
But- newsflash- Guy Ritchie did not invent the London gangster story, and this book sits more comfortably with real (yes- I said ‘real’) London gangster tales like The Long Good Friday or Get Carter.

Writer Cy Dethan and artist Stephen Downey previously worked together on the brilliant and disturbing horror fantasy book Cancertown. So, if you’ve read that book (and if you haven’t why not?) you’ll probably think you’re prepared for Slaughterman’s Creed....
And you’d be partly right. This is as bleak and disturbing as Cancertown- for the most part. But, for my money, this book is a lot more powerful and there is more impact from the violence and gore for one simple reason. And it’s one I have banged on about before in either other reviews of when pontificating about writing.
Horror is all the more horrible when you have people doing horrible things to other people. That’s what Hannibal Lecter is scarier than Freddy Kreuger. And there is a lot of horror in this book.

That is not to say it is some cheap torture porn story. It is not. Every violent action in this book is there to further the plot rather than to titillate an audience of bored teenagers (when did I get this cynical!?).
And what a plot! Dethan, in the first chapter, sets out the plot nicely as he introduces the characters and the concept of the Slaughterman. But then, just as the reader thinks the narrative is going one way, he adds a wonderful reveal that takes it in completely another direction.
There was a point where I thought that Dethan was biting off more than he could chew as he introduced a number of subplots, but I need not have worried, he juggles the various strands with perfection and brings everything to a satisfying climax. Of course, satisfying does not, of course, always mean happy or upbeat... but it does mean clever and altogether logical.

As for the art- Downey has made a quantum leap in quality from his work in Cancertown. His figure drawing is very good and his layouts are thoughtful and imaginative. I did notice one continuity error in there though...
And I suppose I should mention the colouring too... for the sake of full disclosure, I should mention that the majority of the book was coloured by HiEx’s own Vicky Stonebridge, and she does a wonderful job in creating atmosphere, when required, adding to the bloody and gruesome realism of the horror on the page.
So, all in all, I’d say this book is a bit of a triumph for all involved. With a strong narrative, well realised and rounded characters, strong visuals and a wonderful seam of oh so black humour this deserves to be a hit for all involved. And not turning it into a movie would be nothing short of a travesty.

Slaughterman's Creed is published by Markosia comics.

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