RIPD City of the Damned Offers Nice Intro for the Unitiated

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RIPD: City of the Damned TPB
Written by Jeremy Barlow
Art by Tony Parker and Colourist Michelle Madsen
Published by Dark Horse

In light of this summer’s major motion picture with Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges, Dark Horse brings us the collected RIPD: City of the Damned. Detailing the first adventure of recently deceased US Marshall and Old West hero Roy Pulsipher, writer Jeremy Barlow offers up some fresh new backstory and context that expands and colours the RIPD universe.

For the uninitiated, RIPD stands for the Rest In Peace department, a supernatural, undead police force dedicated to assuring the protection of the living from lost souls wandering the earth. They’re sort of like Men In Black with Judeo/Christian mythology instead of aliens. City of the Damned begins with the death of Pulsipher, and then introduces us to his first mentor/partner in the department, a Puritan Warrior by the name of Mather. Together, they investigate the mysterious town responsible for Roy’s death and the disappearance of a number of RIPD agents, teaming up with a demon called Lucifuge along the way.

In City of the Damned, writer Jeremy Barlow gives us a story that’s accessible for the new reader. It introduces the mythology and rules of the universe concisely and clearly that manages to avoid bogging down the action for any extended period of time. In Mather, we have a new character who serves as a strong counterpoint to Roy. He’s fiercely devout, professional, and of an older world than Roy. An extended sequence of him solemnly praying through the night for forgiveness while Roy impatiently waits says all you need to know silently and economically. It’s a relationship that leaves you wanting more from the pair.

The art team manages a distinct look in City of the Damned, something recalling a water colour Frank Quietly. Tony Parker’s line art is soft, and his character expressions lurch sometimes towards the ridiculous, but combined with Michelle Madsen’s colours, they gift the story, in old world, painterly quality that suits the material well. The demon Lucifuge is a highlight, a sneering, massive ambiguous force, a black demon blanketed in smoke, whose only visible features are yellow eyes and a leering smile. Sterling, a clean cut, enormous man with sharpened, talon like fingernails, also leaves a lingering impression. As far as the art goes, the villains prove a strength.

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