By Garrett Hanneken
A man makes a deal with the devil, a classic scenario that always turns out poorly. Which is, unfortunately, how I felt about this issue. The Curse of Brimstone has the potential to be a roaring fire, but by the end of it, I felt a spark of something that could’ve been better.
The Curse of Brimstone begins with a city on the verge of becoming a ghost town and in it lies our main character, Joe Chamberlain. Joe is down on his luck. He has no money, he has no job, his car is breaking down, and his father is on disability. Things sure don’t look well for Joe, but he hopes things will pick up after he hitches a ride with a mysterious stranger. A stranger who promises to “fix” Joe’s disdain for the town that brought him nothing but misery.
The relation to Joe and his hatred for the town does pay off as to why he was chosen to be this stranger’s agent since he is filled with such rage. This is something that works for the story, but it doesn’t work by making the character likable.
This issue breaks Joe down to the point that I don’t empathize with him, but instead pity him. There is nothing redeeming about him other than the fact that he is trying, poorly, to help out his sister and father, but even then he ends up walking out on them. At first, Joe seems to blame everyone else for the problems he has rather than blaming himself. Fortunately, he finally puts some responsibility on his shoulders at the end during his discussion with the stranger, but it had me wondering why he was so social now when he seemed so distant earlier to people he actually knew.
As for the artwork, the panels filled with fire and Joe as the monstrous Brimstone were great to look at, but there was too little of it. Instead, we get a lot of character interaction and it all sort of revolves around Joe hating his town and his situation. With the town itself being boring it makes it difficult for the artist to draw an interesting and eye captivating scenery. For the most part, we get a town with little depth as a good chunk of the panels are filled with talking heads.
This comic may have done little for me, but I still believe this story has potential to pick up as Joe takes on the role of Brimstone. I might still recommend this comic for those that are intrigued by a darker DC character, but you still won’t get much of that here. Which is why the second issue needs to visually be stimulating, and Joe needs to be likable as Brimstone. If the next issue is able to make up for the dull town and pitiable character then there still might be fuel for the fire.
The Curse of Brimstone #1