By Dustin Cabeal
The Showdown is a story I want to like more than I do. The premise of Death Race plus Hell is intriguing. The fact that it’s populated with so many rockabilly/villainous horror creatures makes it more interesting, but there is an element missing that keeps it from getting me to the finish line. Pun intended.
The second volume continues what the first volume started in that our different teams are given the opportunity to get out of hell if they win a race. There are no rules and killing each other is encouraged. There’s just one problem; everyone is already dead. You probably wouldn’t even remember this if the story didn’t bring it up a few times. As if to say, “it’s okay if that was your favorite, there’s always next time.” Which brings me to the other problem.
If I’m supposed to root for any one team, then the story is not spending enough time with that team for me to care properly. While it’s enjoyable that it bounces around to the different teams as they take each other out one by one, it also becomes formulaic and redundant after a bit. With things like Death Race 3000 you focus on one character to follow and root for, but when you bounce around to all of them it’s like Mutant League Football, you care more about the deaths than the characters. The deaths in The Showdown are just okay.
It essentially becomes a story without consequences. Death doesn’t matter because everyone is already in hell. Most of the groups are kind of dickbags, to begin with, and so you’re not likely to root for them. The love story that was set up in the first volume seems to be the main story motivator, but it’s only mentioned by the female characters in this volume. Also, the presence of hell plays very little into the story. At one point a sexual act is requested, and two of the characters pass while a third is willing to give it a go. It’s hell though… isn’t that like a lunch break on a Tuesday for them? Why would anyone care about a rusty old biker dick in hell? My point is, hell is being severely underutilized in the story.
The artwork is solid. It’s consistent, and the cars are the star of the show. The characters still look heavily photo-referenced, but it works for the style of the comic. The action is a little stiff at times, but you’re likely to be distracted by the designs at that point. That panels could fill the page better. Instead, it relies on a background design of sorts to add fill it out. It does work with the coloring of the comic and fits right in, but it is noticeable after a while and at times fills in too much of the page.
Again, the premise grabs you, and the execution isn’t too bad, but the problems are often glaring. The predictable pattern in which the story progresses steals from the joy of seeing the teams eliminated and the lack of any consequences makes reading so many pages a little boring at times. Still, it’s entertaining and well timed to the season. If you’re a rockabilly at heart or just love horror, you’ll definitely get a kick out of it and can find out more on their Kickstarter page.
The Showdown vol. 2
Writer: Russ Lippitt
Artist: Ezequiel Pineda