In the afterward of this first issue, the co-creators of Redlands describe it as “…a diary of the people I hate, the people I love, the places I have and haven’t been. It is a combination of nightmares I have while asleep and the ones that seem to happen even when we’re all awake.”
It is further said that Redlands should “serve as an emotional occult heavy buffet that delivers The fun, the crazed, the demonic, the sexy, the heartbreaking and the human.”
What Redlands #1 is not and does not serve as, unfortunately, is an entertaining comic.
The plotting of the first issue is minimal at best, with the action centered upon a police station in Redlands, Florida. Said station is under siege by unseen demons, who apparently were summoned by three witches following a botched lynching. What follows is a parade of horror movie cliches as the racist, chauvinist pig of a sheriff and his equally bigoted flunkies are menaced and reduced in number by the things that bump in the night. This might be forgivable if we didn’t enter the story in media res, with the sheriff describing the much more interesting events that occurred at the lynching just before the comic started.
What Redlands lacks in originality, however, it more than makes up for in style. Jordie Bellaire is widely recognized as one of the best color artists in the industry and her work here is some of the best I’ve ever seen. Virtually the entire issue is rendered in dull oranges and yellows, crafting the perfect illusion of firelight – the only light in this issue coming from a burning lynching tree outside the police station. This, coupled with Vanesa Del Rey’s excellent artwork, makes for some outstanding visuals.
Fans of these artists may enjoy Redlands #1 for the visuals alone. Horror enthusiasts may be willing to forgive this prosaic opening for the promise of something different in future issues. Everyone else, I fear, will find little reason to pick up Redlands #2.