“Drumhellar” impressed us right out of the gate with its cheerful mix of humour, psychedelics and the paranormal, and with this second issue it continues to surprise and delight – if your definition of “surprise and delight” includes a vengeful bog-man, and I’m pretty sure it does.
Written by Alex Link and Riley Rossmo
Illustrated by Riley Rossmo
Psychedelic detective Drum Hellar searches for a wayward bog-man, but finds mutilated livestock instead. Meanwhile, someone has a gruesome job in mind for Drum’s elusive, soggy bog-buddy, and a new mystery for him to investigate…himself!
Drum’s newfound bog-man got away from him last issue, and the first clue in his search is a gutted steer. Clearly this animated spirit has got some scores to settle, and it’s going take a trip to the mall – and possibly a dose of something powerful – to sort this one out.
Meanwhile, our cast of characters is holding up well, with the introduction of a phlegmatic rancher adding an extra touch of levity to the proceedings. A character from Drum and Padma’s past makes a memorable entrance, and an interlude featuring gossiping high schoolers seems promising. In amongst it all, Drum’s floating familiar-thing, Harold, is shaping up to be a sassy little personality all on his own. We still don’t know where he came from or why, but then, that’s one of the best qualities about this series so far: the fact that it’s starting us out right in the middle of a complex story, and we still feel like we know who everybody is. Drum, Padma and Harold are giving us a more complete feel for who they are with every line of dialogue, and with every bit of information it feels like we only have more reasons to like them, however complicated their lives are and continue to be.
Plotwise, it feels like Drum comes to a revelation about the bog-man pretty quickly, and while the abruptness is in tune with the wacky feeling of this book so far, it’s not a trick Link and Rossmo are going to be able to pull too many times. The forward momentum of this story is coming more from the idiosyncrasies of the characters than from the plot, and while that may keep us going for a while, something in the way of an overarching theme is going to have to emerge. Happily, it looks like we’re getting a hint of something like that on the final page, but it’s kind of early to say.
On the art front, Rossmo’s work is as full of energy and movement as ever, punctuated by extraneous flyaway lines and dense, stippled shadows. We saw the full spectrum of his style in the recent “Dia de Los Muertos” series, and here it’s evident that he’s keeping things reined in for the most part, using simple lines for the facial expressions and only flying off the handle when a horrific element calls for it. You can always count on Rossmo to get across the grotesque in a memorable way, and a double-page spread wherein we’re forced to contemplate humanity as a mass of fleshy tubes is likely the best moment in the issue.
A few facial expressions don’t always quite translate, and some of Padma’s poses don’t look quite right, but the general effect here is fun and confident. Plus there’s nothing like a splash of pink to liven up a macabre story, and Rossmo’s colours (with assists from Karl Fan) continue to lend things a chipper yet otherworldly feel.
Given how dark Link and Rossmo’s miniseries “Rebel Blood” was (and how sinister most of Rossmo’s work tends to be), it’s refreshing to see that this substantially wackier tale is moving along in high spirits and high style. It’s not quite cooked yet, but half the fun is trying to figure out where this odd story is going to go. For the moment it’s a bit like “Proof” on peyote, and that should be enough for anyone.
Final Verdict: 8.8 – Buy