By Russ Lippitt, Ezequiel Pineda, and Nae Esteban
The highway to hell is paved with anything but good intentions and The Showdown Vol 2: The Race From Hell is proof. This book covers thirteen competing car clubs as they race for the glory of winning The Showdown, a race for all of hell’s inhabitants. The different clubs featured include skeletons named the Bone Crusade and zombie pin-ups named the Dead Belles. The clubs are competing through all the layers of hell that contain the undead and flying dragons that will rip off your face. As we watch each team progress we learn event the undead can be killed, it is a race to the death. As the book ends, we go from 13 clubs get dwindled down to 7 and the last few pages introduces a game changer to The Showdown as we know it.
The Showdown has a way of making gore seem funny and appropriate that should make even those new to horror comics okay with seeing decapitations and limbs being ripped off. Writer Lippitt seams to get the balance between a full on grindhouse comic and a family-friendly version. The book walks a fine line that allows even the squeamish to enjoy seeing some gore. There is really only one sequence in the book that felt like it needed a MA rating, where we got to see a half-beast/half-woman wear a dominatrix-style outfit showing some nips. There’s some suggestive language and details throughout the book that definitely classify it as “non-kid friendly”. The book is rather hard to classify, it falls somewhere between horror, comedy, and fantasy. The delightful blend really tells a cool, new tale that any reader from any of those genres will dig.
This book features art from Argentinian artist Pineda along with colors from Esteban. In a book about deep seeded concepts like zombies, frankensteins, and werewolves, it must have been challenging for Pineda to develop some characters that feel new and authentic amidst a sea of sameness. Each group is given delightfully cheeky names and personalities from Lippitt, which seems to have given inspiration to the creations we get from Pineda. We get cool new backgrounds as we enter different levels of hell during the race and we get to meet different clubs and members on every page. Every page felt like a reintroduction to the comic, with new scenery and personalities to acquaint ourselves with. That could feel overwhelming to some readers, a cheat sheet may be necessary, but it is well worth it.
The colors from Esteban are really on-point throughout this issue and bring the gore and fantasy to life. She gets to show off Pineda’s detailed work with the dark hues of a lake on fire, and the cold creepiness is brought of the page of a cemetery with zombies. There are some issues with over shadowing on same panels, though, that really take away from details. The colors really jump off every page, taking the terrifying and making them palpable with fun and bright colors to give life to the undead.
The story races to a climatic finish, with every club getting their own few pages of story. There is so much going on in the story, the pacing and layout could be simplified a little bit to make it a little easier to follow for the reader. You have to give credit to the writer, Lippitt, who appears to be throwing his best material together with a zeal that jumps off the page. The same zeal is what makes the story a little hard to follow, like a lot being thrown at you all at once, but that storytelling cleary comes from a place of creativity, so we should appreciate it.
With Halloween around the corner, The Showdown Vol 2: The Race From Hell is the best comic to get you in the spirit for frights and ghouls. The story brings a new, unique twist to a story that could be boring and trite. This hellishly delightful story will keep your motor running with the turn of every page. There is something fun to be found for all readers, from blood and guts to a love affair amongst the monsters and undead.