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2016 03 12 Born In Hell

"Born in Hell #1 & #2" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by West Wind

Click images to enlarge

Written by Valentin Ramon and Ferran Xalabarder
Illustrated by Ferran Xalabarder
1999, 36 Pages Each


Joe Colter is a private eye with nothing left to lose.  He has no family aside from his two trusty guns, Becky and Betsy.  He's an alcoholic and a bit of an asshole.  Unfortunately for Joe, his cases are taking him to the supernatural elements in town.  That's about all I can fully understand in Born in Hell.  These two issues are rather dense, with a ton of ideas filling every page.  Joe's juggling two cases while making trips to Hell in his dreams.  Meanwhile, there's a cult performing some sort of weird ritual on local women that's like a horror version of Eyes Wide Shut.  Then there's a decapitated guy living in a refrigerator who can attack people with his intestines.  Like I said, there's a lot going on here.

Joe is a tough protagonist, as he's not all that likeable.  He's the kind of guy that shoots first and asks questions later or not at all.  In the second issue, he says he had a wife and daughter, but he can't even remember their names.  He's haphazardly trying to solve his cases, however you get the feeling that he doesn't really care if he figures them out or not.  His clients give him a few bucks to get started and that is enough to buy some more booze, so that's good enough for now.  There's no drive to improve himself or stay one step ahead of the bad guys.  

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The real saving grace with Born in Hell is Ferran Xalabarder's artwork.  He has an intricate and well-detailed style that really makes the gore pop.  There's a scene where a man infected with a horrible disease shambles across the room.  His body is little more than a skeleton.  His flesh is covered with blisters and sores.  Suddenly, his chest rips open, spilling his guts on the floor while his ribcage opens up and attacks a detective.  It's a gruesome sequence brought to life in horrific detail.  That's just one of the many gore-filled segments in the book.  

Xalabarder fills each panel with so much detail.  I can only imagine how long this took to draw.  You can see every little brick in the huge spires in Hell, every tentacle spewing from the aforementioned intestine, headless guy.  Color is sparse, as the book is presented in black and white.  The only real color is red, showing up with blood of which there is quite a lot.  

Click images to enlarge

What throws off the flow of Born in Hell is the lettering.  This was originally written in Spanish, then translated to English, and it shows.  Many of the phrases come out awkward or sounding strange.  There are often times where words are incorrectly hypenated.  For example, the word “Loves” is broken up to fit on two lines so it reads “Lo-” on one line and then “ves” on the next.  

Born in Hell has some great concepts, but ultimately fails in its execution.  There's quite a lot going on with a ton of characters pulling the story in so many directions that it's tough to follow what's actually happening.  This isn't helped any by the translation.  Some of this can be forgiven with the stellar artwork, but the comic still leaves something to be desired.


Story: twostars
Art: fourstars
Overall: 2.5 Star Rating


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About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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