Brian Buccellato and Toni Infante have done it again. Their combination of story and art combine to tell the tale of a modern cult and the lives it affects has produced yet another Eisner-worthy chapter to the series. Issue #3 sees Buccellato add some new characters to the plot along with another visit for the mystery man from his devilish, mirror-inhabiting alter ego. Infante’s art is dead on, as usual, perfectly capturing the psychological edge to Buccellato’s script.
Following Buccellato’s formula for each issue of Sons of the Devil so far, we begin with a flashback to Northern California, circa 1989. This time one of the cultists, a woman who contacted her policeman father in a previous issue, meets with her father to arrange an escape from the commune for herself, one of her friends, and their children. The fast forward to 2015 sees series protagonist Travis Crowe heading to anger management group therapy – where he has a meltdown of sorts – and later getting into a brutal, knockdown, drag-out fight in the bar where he is having drinks with his girlfriend, Mel. Along the way, we are introduced to another woman who is bound to have an impact on Travis’s life, Jenny, one of the members of the anger management group. Finally, the mystery man who is stalking Travis is visited, via mirror, by the devil who he has promised the blood of his children to. The red-skinned, horned monster demands his “gifts” be delivered soon, or else the mystery man will have to face dire consequences.
Buccellato takes his time building up tension in this issue. There is no immediate action. The pace slowly, but steadily, builds towards Travis’s bar fight and subsequent arrest. Full release comes with a mysterious revelation in the last panel that is likely to send Travis’s life into a tailspin. Taken in context with issues one and two, this issue offers a brief moment of respite before hammering the reader with both action and information vital to the plot. Buccellato knows how to pace his script for maximum impact, and issue #3 is a perfect example of that skill.
What can be said of Toni Infante’s art? It is unique in its sketch-like quality. It is organic, and seems to draw forth every subtle nuance of expression out of each character. If you need evidence of these qualities simply look at page 13 and the main panel during Travis’s rant at the group therapy session. Or, on page 14 where the mystery man, posing as the therapist, shows his sudden irritation at Travis’s hasty exit. Page 15, the close-up of the lower part of Jenny’s face, where a subtle smirk plays across her lips. Page 16, where Travis offers a pleading smile to get Mel to stay and have a drink with him at the bar. Or page 20, where the mystery man, with the intensity only a diseased mind can offer, contemplates the drawings he has scrawled across the wall of the basement of the therapist he is impersonating. Each of these panels offers a perfect representation of a living breathing human being who is feeling and expressing their emotions on the page thanks to the hand of a superb artist. While Buccellato gives these characters meaning and purpose, it is Infante who brings them to life.
Sons of the Devil is unique. Buccellato’s plot explores an element of humanity seldom touched upon in literature: cults and the lives those cults have ruined. Infante’s art, which features expressive figures and a sort of surreal, sketch-like quality, perfectly matches Buccellato’s psychologically-fueled story. If you aren’t reading Sons of the Devil, you should be. You will not find a better story, or more engaging art, anywhere else in the comic world.