Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bedlam #5

Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Riley Rossmo

Just before reading this comic this week, I saw on Bleeding Cool that Riley Rossmo is leaving Bedlam due to 'creative differences' with writer Nick Spencer.  I'm never quite sure where I stand on Rossmo's art - when I started reading Proof, I loved it, but as that series continued, I often found his storytelling to be confusing and hard to follow.  Since then, he's sort of become the ubiquitous face of Image Comics, and that has meant he's drawn some books that I don't feel were well suited for his scratchy style.  Five issues into Bedlam though, I can't think of another artist that would be more suitable for Spencer's strange exploration of madness in a world of costumed vigilantes.  This title, with its disfigured nurses and genitally-scarred angel-wing wearing serial killers, would not work with a more realistic or a more cartoonish artist.  Really, no one is coming to mind right now except possibly Ted McKeever, although I'd kind of like to see Bill Sienkiewicz take over (not that that is going to happen).

Anyway, to talk about this actual issue, I'd have to say that my opinion of this book is continuing to grow.  Mr. Press, who we can all safely assume was once the Joker-like character Madder Red, continues to assist a police detective in her investigation into a string of murders.  There is some proof that these killings are connected to a sex-abuse scandal at a church many years prior, and Detective Acevedo reluctantly allows Press to continue helping her as she heads out to a prison to interview the man at the centre of that scandal.

Press is a difficult character to read, and he makes a few moves of his own this month that make his intent and his sanity rather murky.  We also see a lot more of his final days in treatment.  I did have the thought that Spencer has been playing with us, and that Press is not really Madder Red; it's not like Spencer doesn't regularly upend readers' expectations in Morning Glories.

As I said before, Rossmo's art has grown on me over the course of this series so far, and the news of his impending departure makes me wonder how well this book is going to work without him.

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