The Depraved: Empire City #1 – Review
The Depraved: Empire City Issue 1 is a detective noir comic book series with elements of psychological horror. It’s written by Samuel D Davies with art by Martin Davey, colouring by Jason Finestone and lettering also covered by Samuel D Davies.
A high profile actress is murdered in her hotel room and Detective James Miller is the one appointed to catch her killer and bring her justice. He is a worn down man, a man who fights on in-spite of the crushing, enveloping pressure of the murderous offspring of Empire City. Not because he wants to, but because it’s all he has. He fights on, but he’s losing.
The Depraved: Empire City Issue 1 is available now on Comixology.
The Depraved #1 Story
The Depraved: Empire City Issue 1 feels like an indie comic rendition of an Alfred Hitchcock B-side. Writer/letterer Samuel D Davies spends a great deal of time building up a stereotypical American city that revels in the American Dream as much as its own Depravity.
Davies’ obsession with early-mid 20th century crime fiction is clear from the beginning of the panel whilst creating a creepy stalkerish element to the lead antagonist. Leading right up to the last page’s sinister reveal which feels hardly surprising.
There are some grammatical mishaps in the scripting which could’ve easily been avoided but you won’t find yourself tripping over these too much. Instead you’ll revel in the psychological drama of a hunter seeking out his prey. A drama heightened by Davies’ personification of the city’s need to consume all that enters it.
The Depraved #1 Art
It’s worth prefacing this section of the review that I’m not a fan of Martin Davey’s art. While that’s the case, I like what’s been achieved here. The two page splash pages that Davey maps out set the scene so expertly that we are given the feeling the dramatic noir setting can and will make a victim out of just about everyone.
What could’ve elevated The Depraved art is a more dynamic palette and richer tones combined with lettering that felt more noir-ish and less indie comic. Ultimately, I’m not feeling the softer hues. I pause to consider whether a darker shaded black and white scheme would’ve been more effective.
The Depraved #1 Conclusion
The Depraved: Empire City Issue 1 is a missed opportunity for me. While the scripting has fantastic homages to what makes Detective Noir stories so great, it’s the art that left me with puzzled looks.
The lopsided profiles of the characters on each panel felt like art that belongs in a zine more than an indie comic. The lighter shades and palettes take centre stage where bold statements of line work should’ve been added to emphasise the depravity and importance of each character. The city itself isn’t as monstrous or foreboding as Davies would have us believe.
The Depraved: Empire City Issue 1 is still a great lead in to a Comic Book series that has potential to be a decadent murderous thriller.
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