By Fred Van Lente, Guiu Vilanova and Mauricio Wallace
Weird Detective #1 is an interesting and engaging start to what might just be a great new series. It’s a police thriller on LSD with elements of science fiction and horror throughout, making for a great blend of genres. Writer Fred Van Lente (Conan the Avenger) once again demonstrates his ability to write anything and everything without sacrificing his personal style. His dialogue feels genuinely appropriate for comic books and speaks as much to the reader as the various characters. Van Lente creates a premise that is as informative as it is plain fun to read, cherry picking from actual scientific facts placed alongside made up, more fantastic ideas. Combine that with police forensics and a good detective story and you end up with a highly imaginative narrative, which flows throughout. Simply put, this is a weird book, but that’s what makes it such a fun read.
Equally engaging is the artwork by Guiu Vilanova (After the Fire). His real world urban settings keep pace with bizarre alien-like landscapes. Villanova’s creature designs are as realistic as his human figures. This book has a need for art that introduces the extraordinary to the mundane and rest assured it has it. Not only that but the shifts from what we know as reality into the surreal occur abruptly mid scene, but not in ways that jar the reader out of the story. It’s a smooth, sensible transition that gives a true sense of creepiness without overdoing it.
Likewise, Mauricio Wallace (Magnus: Robot Fighter) colors the book in the same manner, blending normal with abnormal. Sickly yellows with sharp and intense pinks and purples create an atmosphere of caution and worry. Wallace’s work draws you in and guides you from panel to panel. If at any time it feels like hand holding, then prepare to be yanked into the action, which can peak in the blink of an eye. Much like a bad trip, Weird Detective keeps your attention whether you like what’s happening or not.
The first issue is double-sized, but it’s the amount of content – not so much the page count – that makes it well worth the cover price. Obviously, there’s more than meets the eye in a book with a title like this one’s, but there’s more to the story too. Overall it’s as much a mystery for readers as it is for the characters. The story’s model is a cop drama with all the familiar tropes; disgruntled police captain, brand new / unwanted partner, double crosses, rising body counts, new leads and dead ends. On top of that, and without feeling cramped, are classic horror traits – everything from dark and spooky hallways to full on monsters. Fans of any one genre would be as satisfied as the reader who craves something more.
Weird Detective is off to a solid start and here’s hoping it keeps up the momentum and whether the mundane will continue to fade into the surreal. If the first issue proves anything it’s that the weird is only going to get weirder.