Talk about some character progression? Ok, I will. While Sundowners has so far vacillated between intriguing and frustrating on almost an issue-by-issue basis, it definitely can’t be faulted for a lack of character development. Between the premiere and the end of this first arc, many of the characters have gone through significant growth that often takes other comics years to accomplish. Most impressively, Tim Seeley and Jim Terry have managed to invert the initial power dynamics to great effect, leaving things off here with a status quo that’s definitely going to make things interesting here on out. After last issue’s reveal that Dr. Shrejic had joined his support group in costume, I was curious what this issue would do with this development. Luckily, Seeley doesn’t change Shrejic’s manipulative, sociopathic personality at all while in costume, revealing that Shrejic has only feigned belief in the group’s idea that other dimensional beings are hoping to wrangle Karl into summoning them to Earth. Throughout the issue, it continues to be unclear whether the rest of the Sundowners team or Shrejic’s perception is the more accurate one, and its evident that Seeley and Terry have had a lot of fun creating scenes that shift between these fantastical and terrifying perspectives.
I’m really happy at how these characters have progressed, especially since I had been concerned at times that some of the characters may have been fulfilling the awful damsel in distress role. No way did I think Crowlita would come out to be the strongest, most self-assured character of the Sundowners group given some of her story beats, and although a bit on the nose, her last line on the final page exudes a badassery only matched by the video showing every scream Arnold Schwarzenegger has done in a movie (Look it up. It is badass.). Paired with Dr. Shrejic’s exposure as the coward he is following the opening fantasy scene of him exploiting the Sundowners on some Jerry Springer knockoff, and there’s definitely a feeling of narrative satisfaction at the issue’s end.
I’ve written before that I really like Jim Terry’s art, but this issue his visuals really do a fantastic job of complementing the script. For instance, in the fight between the Sundowners and the otherworldly creatures, it was a great reveal when the fight moves from the Sundowners’ perspective to Shrejic’s, who only sees the characters writhing on their own on the floor. Terry really sells the horror, and black humor of this scene via the Sundowners’ facial expressions, making them appear in the midst of an intense fight in spite of the lack of enemy’s from Shrejic’s point of view.
Terry also does stellar work on an early page where Shrejic decides to take the lead on the church break-in. He depicts Shrejic engaging in a variety of flips and elementary school parkour maneuvers as Seeley’s script delivers references to notable comic book team leaders. Of course, it’s the last page that can most often remain with a reader, and I was beyond impressed with how much Terry managed to say about each character just with their body language and positioning alongside one another, Tila-nearest to the front and again, look badass poised with a handgun, the stoic Mr. Citizen-still masked despite becoming the most vulnerable, Andrea Bisch-looking pissed and ready to wreck shit, Karl Volf- exhausted following his early victory, and Shrejic- scared out of his mind. I hadn’t noticed before how you could convey fear in a person via their hands. Thanks for the lesson, Terry!
Sundowners has been a tough comic to read at times, but now I’m sold on the world and its leads. It took some time for Seeley and Terry to find their footing, but now they’re off at a pace that will certainly bode well for upcoming issues as the invisible hoards invade Chicago.
Writer: Tim Seeley Artist: Jim Terry Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 1/28/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital