Once more I return to the chimerical provincial paradise that is Deathridge Heights, to partake of the saga of horrors befalling our protagonists, Boris and Doris.
The third installment ended on a rather grisly note and Deathridge #4 continues right where we left off, with the dagger and the blood and the screaming and such like. As is reassuringly persistently the case, all is not as it might first seem; the relatively violent entrée evolves to a point that bestows the reader with a sense of enveloping inquisitiveness as opposed to engulfing butchery.
Much to my delight, we once again find poor Boris, alongside his errant ally Freeman, imprisoned in a basement. The pair is eventually assisted by an acolyte, enabling them to delve further into the mysteries that separate Boris from his wife and that lie behind her fate.
In terms of dramatic interplay, plot development, honed dialogue, gleeful art and a series of meta-textually irreverent nods and winks, Deathridge continues to build upon the success of the preceding trinity.
With Deathridge #4 and #5, there are a series of satisfactory pay-off revelations that focus on ‘the power of St. Blaise’ and ‘the Cult of Deathe’, which have been permeating the atmosphere of this tale from the outset.
More germane however is that Ashley Hewerdine perseveres with each issue to confound expectation and takes delight in spinning his yarn in an unexpected direction; particularly at pivotal points when a reader might feel they’ve got it all sussed. These latest two issues expose multi-foiled layers of intrigue and skullduggery. One is educated in the manner of schemes and machinations many years in the making.
Shrewdly, the content is not so exposition heavy as to be consistently hitting one note. Hewerdine continues to vary the palate with plenty of derisive humour, including some particularly cheeky illustrations of sidekick Glenn Freeman, when he’s sporting particular headgear.
From the second issue onwards we have seen Boris making his way under considerable duress, through labyrinthine turns of the screw, yet refusing to be thwarted from his goal of saving poor Doris. So, as the story proceeds, his character grows in stature.
What was ostensibly a seemingly uncomplicated fiction has matured with its advancement. It challenges the reader’s overall expectations of this chronicle whilst concurrently questioning initial assumptions regarding most of the characters. The design techniques, the artistry and the dialogue are skillfully executed throughout with a consistency that enables the story to unfold convincingly, whilst adding much joy within the detail of each page.
The conclusion of Deathridge #5 is a satisfying denouement of the first major arc. Unrelentingly, one is nonetheless treated to another delicious cliffhanger. Roll on Deathridge #6!
You can find out more about Deathridge here. It’s also available now from the following outlets :
Alternate Universe Comics – Chesham
Alternate Universe Comics – Leighton Buzzard
Chaos City Comics – St Albans
Calamity Comics – Harrow
Dead Universe Comics – Aylesbury