3 Devils #1 by Bo Hampton with colors from Jeremy Mohler, tells the story of a Gypsy child who lived at the turn of the 19th century, and gruesomely becomes orphaned. She is taken by a freed slave named Marcus who makes sure her family gets a proper burial and takes care of her in his cabin in the middle of nowhere. During a run for provisions into town, they get held up by a family who wants to take everything they have. It’s there Tara finds out the person who's been caring for her may have ties with the supernatural, as the people who kill her family does. There are a lot of things that happen to Tara in this issue, but very few that she does. With the 32 pages Bo Hampton is given to tell a full story, whenissue #1 is little story told and focus towards specific moments that would shock rather than set up for the rest of the arc. After finishing the story, there is no motivation known for Tara and what she will do in 3 Devils. Neither her nor Marcus have a goal set further than getting provisions, and them talking to each other after the long silence they had since they met didn’t have much impact on me as a reader because there was no break in the narration. When the characters weren’t talking to each other, caption boxes made sure to let us know that they weren’t doing that, or that Marcus would hunt for them, and menial things that could have been better shown than told.
The art seems rushed in this issue throughout many panels. Some moments that would seem like throwaway scenes are added to pad the rest of the page, instead of taking the time on the panels and reactions that really, matter. A little girl seeing her family massacred in front of her should have a bigger impact on her face that it is depicted in this issue. The style resembles that of Southern Bastards in its roughness in definition combined with light inking but rather than work for the grittiness of the issue, it makes the panels lack the intensity the story is asking for; or even worse, they look unfinished.
The last gripe I had with this issue was the lettering, which is something I never speak about. I believe lettering should be there to serve the story, be minimalistic, and organic with the art. Many artists hand letter comics for this reason, and consistency in simple things like balloons, their tails, and flow of the speech into the next panel, although seeming insignificant, the repetition lets the reader catch the dialogue and narration as they focus more on appreciating the art and how the words relate to it. The lettering inconsistencies in this issue became impossible to ignore. The caption boxes changed color twice in the middle of the issue despite having the same narrator, tails pointing to the heads, eyes, getting in the characters’ faces and even then pointing away from the mouth, balloons changing shape, with what seemed to be the purpose of tonality in the character’s voice, but came off as sloppy.
3 Devils #1 isn’t sure about what it is. It seems to grasp at trying to be gritty but fails at it. Captions attempt the Frank Miller style of narrating but comes off as cheesy, and there is no true set for a story to follow.
3 Devils Writer/Artist: Bo Hampton Colorist: Jeremy Mohler Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 3/16/16 Format: Print/Digital