Review: The Devil Is Due In Dreary

This is an example of a passable idea for a story being told in a less than ideal way. A lot of the parts are here, and it has half of the equation for good art, but a lot of little weaknesses that undo its few strengths.

The Devil Is Due In Dreary is a complete story beginning to end, about a young boy who witnesses the devil take his preacher father to Hell. The boy then grows up to be a preacher himself, spiritually leading a small Western town with a strange poem left by his father that prophesied the return of the Devil. Our story really begins when two former criminals roll into town, the first event of the prophetic poem, sending the isolated burg into a spiral of panic and violence.

Overall, it sounds like a pretty solid and creative idea. Unfortunately, the material isn't handled particularly well, with a script that relies far too heavily on our main characters being moved around plotlessly from captivity to safety, with few events of significance happening until the climax. The clichés and humor are equally past their expiration date and despite having an overall tone of serious realism it has weird cartoon moments that yank that tone around. For example, early on, one of our heroes intimidates some threatening bikers by shooting some moths out of the air with his pistol. Later, he never again shows any sign of supernatural prowess or ability. Initially, I didn't think anything of it, as it was early in the book and I had my own assumptions about the direction it was going with the story, but midway through, looking back, the moment seem incredibly out of character and silly. The book's tone is very reminiscent of a Stephen King novel, with ordinary people turned to violence in extraordinary circumstances, but with far less supernatural elements than most of King's work. This moment, as well as other choices in characterization, come off more like a bad 80's action thriller.

The Devil Is Due In Dreary CoverThe use of the supernatural is another issue I had with the plot. Throughout the course of the story, the preacher is depicted as increasingly irrational, with characters questioning his prophecy and his tyrannical efforts to avert what could likely just be a figment of his madness. While this seems like a great angle and seems to be an angle that the author was attempting, in the first five pages we SEE the Devil. Immediately, any question of the presence of the supernatural is quashed, because we have been informed that in this world the Devil does exist. It answers the central question before going on to thematically pin everything on answering the question again. It undercuts the themes I think the book was trying to play with, and makes nearly everything everyone says and does in the story more or less irrelevant to the resolution.

Another problem comes from the art. The lines are pretty good. Allan Jefferson has some great compositions and has good flow. He even has some nice experimental panelling early on that gives the visuals some added personality. Unfortunately, the color work is largely dreadful, flat literal colors done in muddy pastel that musses up otherwise clean and professional work. It took away from it honestly, but readers hopefully will be able to see Jefferson's good work beneath it.

It's a good idea loaded with old-fashioned cliché characters and with a confused mess of a 'point'. In a strange paradox you'll be able to call the ending early on while at the same time not understanding why it conveys the story's stated theme. I won't spoil it, but even the final line that tries to tack on one last 'big idea' onto the whole thing comes off as a flat pointless swing at the dramatic that undercuts practically everything the book just tried to sell. This book didn't make me mad. It's inept not irritating, but every beat of the story seems packaged with something that makes it come off as weak, poorly thought out, and weirdly dated. It's another strange paradox. It both could have been so much more and yet really couldn't at the same time.

Score: 2/5

Writer: David Parkin Artist: Allan Jefferson Publisher: Arcana Studios Price: $5.99 Website