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2017 01 13 The Damned Volume 1

"The Damned: Volume 1 – Three Days Dead" Trade Paperback Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by Oni Press

the damned 00

Written by Cullen Bunn
Illustrated by Brian Hurtt
Colored by Bill Crabtree
2006, 152 Pages
Trade paperback released on March 8th, 2017


When you hear the term gangster, images of tommy guns and speak-easys come to mind.  The prohibition era allowed organized crime to run rampant.  We're familiar with names like Al Capone and Bugsy Siegel, but The Damned puts a far more evil take on gangs with actual demons.  Rival factions vie for territory while the general public is completely unaware of the darkness lurking nearby.  

Eddie is a human caught in the middle of this.  He's already sold his soul, so he's been gambling away everything else.  This has left him with a unique talent that makes him perfectly suited to work with the  mob.  It takes a little while for you to figure out what this actually is, so I don't want to spoil it here.  You learn the extent of these abilities and how they work organically through the story.  When it all clicks into place, it's a real “Aha!” moment and it changes the way you perceive things a bit.  It also reframes Eddie in a big way.  How he uses this “gift” is remarkable, especially considering what he has to go through to do so.  

Click images to enlarge

You can tell from the moment you first see Eddie that he's been through Hell.  As you read the book, you find that could definitely mean literally as well as figuratively.  His face is covered in scars, remnants of all the violence he's seen in his life.  When he cleans himself up, he's calm, cool, and collected in a suit and tie.  He is the amalgamation of every hard-boiled private eye from noir stories new and old.  Eddie has to keep his composure considering what he' sitting across from.

The first time you see a demon in The Damned, it is a sight to behold.  It's not a secret that they're in the book, as it's a major part of it; however, the reveal creeps up on you, showing itself through a page turn.  It's there you see Big Al in all his glory (not to be confused with Big Gay Al from South Park).  He's a hulking monster with devil-like features, complete with massive horns that extend his height by at least another couple feet.  Although he's intimidating to see right off the bat, he's clean-cut in a tailored suit and tie.  He's a boss after all, and he has to look the part.  Artist Brian Hurttt did a phenomenal job with these designs.

Click images to enlarge

Speaking of Hurtt's artwork, he has drawn easily one of the slimiest and creepiest monsters to date with The Worm.  He's a long, snake-like creature with small arms sprouting out sporadically around his body as he coils around in the shadows.  His skin is pasty white, as if it hasn't seen sunlight in ages.  Maggots gather around his mouth as if they're breeding between his teeth.  The most unsettling part of this whole design is the eyes.  The Worm's entire body is covered in eyes.  Even one of his nostrils is an eye.  

Eddie takes a job that appears simple on the surface and quickly escalates into something far more complicated, not to mention dangerous.  He has little choice in the matter.  What follows is a mystery that unfolds like the works of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, except instead of two-bit crooks and classy dames, you've got literal demons.  There were one or two elements that felt like they were thrown in a little too easily, like Eddie knew all along this was where he had to go, even though he received no real clues to get him there.  These are minor qualms, as the overall story is solid and flows incredibly well.  You are with Eddie every step of the way and heavily invested in his survival.

Click images to enlarge

The Damned is a perfect blend between horror and crime.  It takes the best aspects of both genres, bringing them together to make something scary yet intriguing.  Eddie is a distinct character amidst a horde of generic hard-nosed private eyes.  The best part about this whole book is that it's just beginning.  This trade paperback is kicking off a new ongoing series and if this is how it starts, I cannot wait to see where it goes next.


Story: fivestars Cover
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Art: fivestars
Overall: 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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