Last week’s CONSTANTINE was one of the biggest disappointments of the month for me. After some solid issues, the series seemed to devolve into the tangled, dull web of exposition that is superhero comics at their worst. Ray Fawkes has more than redeemed himself in my eyes with TRINITY OF SIN: PANDORA #14 by Fawkes, Francis Portela, and Tom Derenick, which is just a non-stop, all-action vampire story from beginning to end, and a great way to finish the series as a standalone title before next month’s tie-in, which will consolidate the book into TRINITY OF SIN, the new series that will bring The Question back into action.
Two things that really make this issue work are the pace and the art. It’s twenty pages of vampire-bashing, with some very creepy monsters and inventive action. From page one there’s a grim, nihilistic atmosphere as some poor guy wakes up having been bitten and seeing his new friends feasting on his old ones.
Then the gang busts in and it’s about ten straight pages of action. The story pauses to catch its breath only to immediately begin building tension for an explosive climax.
Portela’s art lends the vampires an otherworldly feel. Pointed ears, mouths entirely full with sharp teeth, eyes set deep in pools of black, implausibly long limbs, and then that six-headed freak in the elevator shaft. The vampires are so well-realized, visually speaking, that just a hint of them can be effectively creepy. One of my favorite panels involves a close-up of scaly, bony vampire fingers prying open an elevator door.
This is my favorite Ray Fawkes scripted story in weeks, and an explanation of why this month’s CONSTANTINE was such a disappointment. These are physical characters meant to express themselves physically. They shine when character is expressed and plot is developed through action and you don’t need to keep a hundred threads in mind to understand the story.
The context of PANDORA is simple enough to grasp immediately, or just infer by picking up any random issue, and this issue shows what Fawkes can do when he doesn’t have to dump a ton of exposition and explanation into our laps; one of the best straight up action comics I’ve read in weeks.
As Fawkes has shown a knack for, the action is sometimes complemented by some really visceral dialogue. “Nobody told me vampires pop like glass! So satisfying!” I bet Fawkes has great taste in video games. The art is equally visceral, and the pacing doesn’t make us wait too long between letting Portela rarely show off with vampires getting thwomped. More comic books should be like this.
A fast pace, visceral action, and dark, borderline depressing atmosphere make up the best straight action comic I’ve read this month.
For once I don’t really have anything negative to say. Okay: sometimes the coloring looks like Dalhouse aimed for “competent” and stopped there. The blood could have been a little more vibrant to contrast the grim, gray surroundings. Everything’s got that sort of icy, soft blue color.
Although PANDORA hasn’t been one of my favorite series, this has been one of my favorite books in weeks. Fast, violent, action packed, creepy and visceral.