Wow, I’m really behind on this review. Even my most loyal readers probably don’t remember when I mentioned way back that I met the WWE wresteler Brimstone at ComiCONN and picked up some signed copies of the series he co-wrote titled Brimstone and the Borderhounds. Since then, I’ve been picking away at the titles, reading one every few months and then promptly losing the stack of comics somewhere. Now, however, I’ve finished the initial run and can comment on what was within. How did this independent series stack up compared to my usual fare?
Brimstone and the Borderhounds #1-4 focus on two parallel stories that eventually intersect. In the living world, we have police officer William Altar, a devout Muslim and exceptional detective. Meanwhile, in Hell, we meet Brimstone and the Borderhounds, a group of mercenaries tasked with ensuring that the souls of the damned can’t escape. What brings the two together is a murderer known as Hostile; this psycho was taken down years before by Altar, who also died in the process, but now he’s returned from beyond to continue his spree of violence. Can these two disparate groups work together long enough to bring Hostile down?
Brimstone, who’s real name is William M. Kucmierowski, wrote the series together with M.H. Carnevali. It’s difficult to say who wrote what or who had what idea, so I’m going to consider them a unit for the sake of review. Ultimately, I felt the writing in this series flip-flopped. Some of the dialogue and narration was epic and drew me closer to the story, but other scenes seemed either forced or fell flat. For instance, in a later issue a fellow police officer begins to denounce Altar on account of his religious background…but this scene seemed almost out of nowhere and did almost nothing for the story whatsoever. Another scene I wasn’t fond of involved Altar and Brimstone discussing their next moves, but I felt it dragged on needlessly. As a result, the writing didn’t really hold firm ground, and I found myself loving some pages but finding others tireless.
I also felt the characters were a mixed bag: Altar seemed very interesting and had a powerful backstory and motivation, but I still felt he lacked…something. Maybe it was the fact I felt they played up his religion a bit too much, which didn’t really seem at all relevant for the sake of the story and just looked like a way to say, “Don’t judge people based on their religious beliefs,” a fine message, but not at all fitting for a series that’s supposed to focus on the afterlife, damnation, etc. Brimstone seemed like a cool character and there were some intriguing hints at his past…but sadly we’re only given a little taste and as a result his character failed in my eyes as well. Obviously, I can’t expect to learn everything in just 4 issues, but given that his name is in the series title I expected to get a little better acquainted with him. Brimstone’s compatriots, Dawg and Luscious, also didn’t provide the story with anything aside from a smidgen of comic relief. Honestly, I felt removing the two characters wouldn’t drag down the story at all. Both seemed more annoying than anything and just took up page space and lines that could’ve been better devoted to Altar or Brimstone himself. Finally, we have Hostile. Now, I have to say I think he was a successful character: he’s a madman, doing what he does only because of his madness. He was truly frightening, and definitely made a compelling foe for the protagonists.
Sajad Shah provided the pencils for this series, but I’m not quite sure how I feel about them. The character designs weren’t really anything special, as most of them looked like regular, buff humans. Now and then we got to see some sort of demon or hellish occurrence, and those designs were fairly cool, but sadly they were too few and far between to merit much consideration. The action scenes were drawn in an exciting manner, and I did enjoy reading those sections. Alan “Vandal” Chickering provided the colors to the issues and I feel he chose a fairly good blend of dark tones that he contrasted with splashes of light such as Brimstone’s blond hair and Lush’s bright pink boa. The inking and lettering, provided by Thiago Castro, were both quite good. The art, like the writing, came off as a mixed bag but was generally good.
Brimstone and the Borderhounds is a fun series that takes a creative look at life after death, treating Hell like a corporation. I didn’t find the idea compelling, but it is, if nothing else, unique. I feel others might like this series better than I did, but given its level of violence and darkness I wouldn’t suggest it to the faint of heart. I’d say borrow Issue #1 from a friend and give it a read and, if you like it, keep reading. Otherwise, it’s probably better to steer clear.
Brimstone and the Borderhounds #1-4 Overall:
Brett Simon is a twenty-two year old comic enthusiast. He hopes Brimstone doesn’t challenge him to a grudge match for not extolling this series.