Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #196 by Drew Barth

Damned If You Don’t

Although the spooky season will soon close, ghosts and demons flow through the pages of comics—even the ones that Fredric Wertham thought would jump out and murder children—a proudly ignominious tradition. Today, we have a new spookier series releasing in Damn Them All by Si Spurrier, Charlie Adlard, Sofie Dodgson, Shayne Hannah Cui, and Jim Campbell.

I enjoy a good Spurrier comic, whether that be Six-Gun GorillaCoda, or Godshaper, a new series from him and the artists he collaborates with is always a treat. Damn Them All is a deep-dive into the demonic: what it means to summon them, the costs of doing so, and the people who make it happen. The people who make it happen, namely Ellie Hawthorne and her uncle, the late Alfie Hawthorne, have the strongest occult connections and know that summoning a demon is something that can’t be done or taken lightly. But then it does happen lightly. At Alfie’s funeral a kid pulls a demon out to kill a rival gangster—no summoning magic, no spells, not sacrifices, nothing at all. For the most part, everything normal in the summoning world is no longer relevant. If you have a sigil and a grudge, you can summon something horrifying to mutilate your enemies. And that means something is very wrong.

Most interesting in this first issue of Damn Them All is how Adlard’s art plays with perspective and time. The first few pages gives us our background—Ellie and her uncle and the process by which magic can be done. We’re given the entire sequence through Ellie’s eyes and have these brilliant white spaces where narration, quite literally, fills in the gaps. These spaces break the page up in an interesting way where they’re just large enough to feel like borders, but not so large that they compete with the panels of art between them. They provide a rhythm, as if we’re in the middle of a montage, and gets us used to some of the more fun tricks the creative team plays throughout the issue. We have the rhythm of the montage, the white panels and thoughts, leading us always toward a splash page reveal or action of some kind. Like a conductor’s baton, the structure of the pages keeps the story beats in time.

Damn Them All is the kind of spooky comic I never know that I’m waiting for, then the book materializes and shocks me with how much further I wish to dive to find all of the demonic things clawing at the edge of the page. Damn Them All #1 showcases Spurrier, Adlard, Dodgson, Cui, and Campbell as masters of the craft of introductions—we see a little, but we want more.

Get excited. Get possessed.

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Drew Barth at Miami Book Fair in 2019.

Drew Barth (Episode 331, 485, & 510) resides in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida.