Friday, 28 January 2011

Slaughterman's Creed: the Internet Has its Say...

The first reviews of Slaughterman's Creed are in, and broadly in agreement. Here's the first, from Wayne Hall of the excellent SFP-Now podcast:

Comix Portal: Comic (P)Review: ‘Slaughterman’s Creed’

Written by Wayne Hall on January 25, 2011 – 12:02 pm -

Every once in a while, a comic comes to my attention that really gets a reaction from me. Slaughterman’s Creed is just such a comic.

Here’s the summary for the five-issue series: “Sidney is a professional killer working for Big Lenny Addison, a London ganglord specialising in human trafficking. He is almost completely uneducated except in his family’s trade – at which he is an unparalleled expert.

“When he is called upon to breach his code and bring a pregnant woman to slaughter, Sidney’s world is changed forever. Betrayed by those he has served his whole life, the Slaughterman embarks on a bloody vendetta – determined to bring Addison’s entire monstrous empire to the blade.”

Site Head Honcho Ian M. Cullen is a big fan of Cy Dethan, the creative mind behind this series. I recently reviewed his Indifference Engine comics, which were fascinating science fiction. After I read them, Ian told me that Engine was actually very light fare for Dethan, who can dish up some really twisted ideas at times.

Boy, was Ian right!

Slaughterman’s Creed is a very disturbing look at crime noir. I was happy to get a chance to check out the comics before they hit the stands as a trade paperback in May of this year (I hear the digital version may be available sooner than that, but we’ll see). Be sure to pick this trade up if you like dark and twisted stories that will grab you and not let you go. It’s a real “page turner!” I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

It’s not that some of the characters don’t have a code of honor. They do, particularly Sidney, who treats his victims with his own brand of “respect.” If you’re looking for a role model in this comic, you’ll be really disappointed. Everyone is trying to stab someone else in the back, either literally or figuratively.

That doesn’t mean the comic isn’t telling an interesting story. I couldn’t stop reading it. And I was especially surprised by a radical change in direction about three issues in. It shocked me so much I can’t bring myself to spoil it here.

The characters themselves are dark and dank. The strangest among them is Mr. Green, a new assassin who has literally been turned green by having his entire body covered with tattoos in that color. Compared to the rest of the world he lives in, he’s this bright, weird light bulb that stands out very strongly visually. And he also stands out in the story, a counterpoint to Sidney’s abilities and code.

Stephen Downey‘s art isn’t quite up to the story’s standards, but in some ways, it fits the sketchy, moody world we’re peering into. A little more detail would have been more to my liking, but I still get chills when I think of Sidney explaining the creed to a young girl.

Speaking of the code, here it is from Dethan’s website: “Thine is the task of blood. Discharge thy task with mercy. Let thy victim feel no pain. Let sudden blow bring death; Such death as thou thyself would ask for.”

If Mr. Dethan keeps delivering this kind of novel perspective on the world, I’ll have trouble sleeping at night. Yikes! But I was gripped from the first page, so please keep it up!

Rating: 4/5.

Hot on the proverbials of that bombshell came the following write-up from Richmond Clements - writer, editor of FutureQuake Press and co-organiser of Hi Ex! The Highlands International Comic Expo:

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 why Hannibal Lecter is scarier than Freddy Krueger. 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 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.

Slaughterman's Creed will be launched as a trade paperback at the Bristol Comic Expo in May with a special pre-order price of £10. As mentioned in a previous post, this launch is a limited edition so pre-ordering is advised.

If you would like to reserve a copy to be held behind the stand, or posted out to you, please get in touch with us now and we will add your name to the list and email you to let you know the options for how to pay.

If you are not coming to the show there will be postage added to the £10 which is £2 in the UK and £4 for overseas delivery.

If you are a reviewer, blogger, journalist or podcaster and would like some more information then drop us a line.

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