Rival Review: Gallows of Hell
If you are a webcomic fan and haven’t heard of Broken Soul Press then you’re really missing out on some high quality comics. Writer Curtis Lawson, who also owns and operates the small comic label, always delivers with excellent story telling and always signs on incredible artists to bring his comics to life. BSP’s latest offering is a downloadable comic called Gallows of Hell, and it definitely doesn’t disappoint. Continue reading for the full review and rating.
I first fell in love with Broken Soul Press last year when I was hosting my comic, Captive, at Drunk Duck. While there, I stumbled onto Cutis Lawson’s gem of a webcomic Grindhouse. Grindhouse was a cool, random collection of small stories where Mr. Lawson highlighted his ability in several genres, especially a penchant for writing horror. The series was brimming with style and had an awesome pulp feel that got me instantly hooked on BSP, and had me following all of Mr. Lawson’s other projects.
The latest of which, Gallows of Hell, is an adventure unlike any that I’ve read from Broken Soul Press. With the mature content and art style, the comic fits right in with other BSP titles, but it’s the way Lawson uses his characters to explain the absence of divine justice that really sets this story apart from other titles. I don’t know if the concepts in the story reflect Lawson’s own beliefs, or if it was simply an interesting concept for a fiction story, but it’s thought provoking either way.
The main character in the story, Jack Gallows, is interesting, albeit not fully fleshed out (hoping there are follow up comics to continue the character development). He is kind of your run of the mill, nothing to lose, out for vengeance, action junkie type characters, but he’s fun and definitely has potential as a really cool hell-dwelling anti-hero. Even know the whole family got killed and I want revenge story has been told a thousand times, the way the story is written and the setting it takes place in holds your interest and makes you want to keep reading.
Speaking of settings, from beginning to end the locations are lots of fun, especially on a visual standpoint. It starts with a well paced gun fight in an alley that looks dark and gritty. While I’m not a big fan of some of the character’s facial expressions, artist Kundo Krunch does an excellent job with the settings and his contrast work on the all black and white comic is superb (in most areas). The end of the scene illustrates the death of our anti-hero as he uses a grenade to take out all of his enemies, and himself. He has nothing to lose after all.
After Gallows’ death, the comic really shines, both in story and art. Directly following his death we get to see him ascend toward the heavens and to the visage of his lost wife and daughter, who were apparently murdered sometime before the events of this comic. The scene is very dreamlike and surreal, so much so that you can almost here melodic tunes in your head as you read. It doesn’t take long before you’re interrupted by hooks plunging into Gallows to pull him toward his proper destination in Hell. The contrast on the character with the winding hooks in his body and demons underneath is powerful to say the least. Gallows ascent to the heavens and plunge to Hell is one of the better webcomoc scenes I’ve seen in a long time.
Once Gallows actually gets to Hell, the reader is introduced to several people who are part of Gallows past. Their forms in Hell are different than their human forms on Earth and match with their addictions and sins. Most of these shady characters look incredible and the scenes they are depicted in are pretty disturbing. Despite the cool looking characters and setting in Hell, this is also where I saw the weakest point with the art; specifically regarding the panel that shows the punishment of a whore, which seems rushed compared to much of the rest of the book.
This is also where we are introduced to Lawson’s concept of divine justice, or a lack of, as Gallows meets a woman who explains that God doesn’t want competition so even those who would kill in righteousness, such as Gallows, would suffer the same fate as murderers, rapists, etc and be cast into Hell. During this conversation, Lawson highlights the irony that these sinners and killers would be punished by being sent to a place full of the sins they enjoyed participating in so much on Earth, while those who would kill in an attempt to rid the world of evil would end up in the same place and be completely surrounded by the evils they fought against in life. I found this to be very interesting and thought that it added a lot of weight to an otherwise ‘been there, done that’ kind of story.
After understanding the rules of Hell, Gallows also gets to come face to face with the man responsible for the death of his wife and daughter…then slaughter him. This was one of the most visually striking parts of the comic and was thoroughly enjoyed by yours truly. Gallows then basically ends with the ‘introduction’ of it’s main character as a man determined to clean Hell of it’s filth. By the time it ended, I definitely wanted to see a follow up, and thought the story had a lot of potential as a series. Let’s face it, he shouldn’t ever run out of enemies in Hell…
Final words: Gallows would seem like a mediocre story about a man with nothing to lose seeking vengeance for his family, but is helped out by really awesome concepts of divine justice. The artwork, while hit and miss now and then, shines throughout most of the book. The artist created several powerful and memorable scenes with wonderful contrast work. Together, Curtis Lawson and Kundo Krunch put together a really good read, and I, for one, would love to see a sequel in the future.
Rival Rating: 4/5 great
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