Reviewed by Will Cooling
Title: Heaven’s Prisoners
Writer: Andrew Winter
Artists: Duane Leslie, Keith Burns and Jason Dennis
Published by Moonface Publishing
The previous two Devilchild volumes used its central concept, that of Troy, The Anti-Christ’s “rites of passage” as he is reunited with his father and assumes his demonic form after being “guarded” by two angels, as a foundation for a tale with an impressively epic scope as corporate conspiracies, satanic politics and heavenly warfare is added to the mix. Not to mention God’s gone gaga. Now with the third book we find Lucia and Beatrice being held by Heaven’s de facto rulers Michael and Raphael after their attack on Hell to rescue Troy. Meanwhile, Troy is trapped on Earth with a witch trying to fight off a group of angels sent to assassinate him. What follows is riotous mix of spectacular action scenes, dark comedy, twisted and perverse mythology and every growing army of grotesques.
In other words, cool stuff follows.
For this third volume Andrew Winter abandons the back up stories and instead presents a 64 page Devilchild story. His writing benefits from the added space. Winter now has a bit more time to take and uses it to produce some excellent little quips such as the selling of souls scene and some brilliantly bitchy one liners. A real strength of his writing is his brilliant character work. Old mythic features such as God, Satan, Anti-Christ, St. Peter, Angels and Demons are given more than an “ultimatization”; they are made into fully developed and interesting characters. Troy is the obvious example with real efforts made to show how difficult the events of the past few weeks (y’know, realizing he’s The Anti-Christ) have been for him. However, Winter is able to balance writing the likes of God and Satan as true characters whilst satirizing them as shown in the “selling of the souls” scene. There can also be no overstating of the complexity his plots, with what seemed to be tangents to the main story in previous volumes proving to be integral parts of this volumes plot. This fact makes the “tangents” taken in this volume even more exciting in anticipation of their pay offs in the next volume.
However, the big change over the previous volumes is the radical shift in the art. With Natalie Sandells busy on another project Winter utilizes a trio of artists previously used in Devilchild’s back up stories to share art duties. Pick of the bunch has to be the Kevin O’Neil esque Jason Dennis whose jagged, grotesque imagery brings the conclusion to life with some fantastic set piece scenes and his Satan looking especially pleased with himself. Duane Leslie also excels in the opening with his artwork having similar quality to the likes of Michael Gaydos in its ability through almost excessive detail to marry intense beauty with a gritty, dirty feel. His fight scenes are brilliant, especially the care he takes to show the effects of the brutality on its participants. Finally, we have Keith Burns whose stylized, jiggered minimalist style is as unique as it is good. Together they bring out more in the art than any one of them could by themselves as the story benefits from the leap in style that each brings. Breaking with the establish formula and creative team was a risk but its paid off big time for Andrew Winter.
Together with his Unholy Trinity of artists Winter delivers one of the best and most professional British Independent comics that contains not only writing and art to match Direct Market titles but the production values too.
Thank you to Moonface Press for giving me materials for this review. You can order Devilchild Volumes I & II and learn more about the forthcoming Volume III http://www.devil-child.co.uk/main.htm here