Written by Brian Buccellato
Art by Toni Infante
Published by Image Comics, Inc.
One of the prominent themes in Sons of the Devil is family. From the interaction between Travis Crowe and his foster brother, Klay, in issue #1 to the genes shared by Travis and cult leader David throughout the series, to the new family ties revealed by Jenny last issue, family is an important concept in this series. Issue #4 sets the stage for arguably the most dysfunctional and unusual family reunion in modern fiction, barring maybe the Firefly family from Rob Zombie’s House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects.
Following his normal formula for this series, Buccellato begins with a flashback, this time to 1989. Vanessa and Tilly, two young women who want to escape from the cult, The Sacred Co-Op, worry that their leader, David, may suspect the plans they’ve recently put into motion. While Tilly ensures the silence of their unwitting male accomplice, Vanessa, one of many women pregnant by David, receives an unwelcome visit from the cult leader in the middle of the night. Flash forward to the present where Travis is getting the full story about his heritage from his half-sister, Jenny, who tracked him down and revealed herself to him in issue #3. She shows him pictures of their father, being sure to point out his one red eye – a genetic anomaly Travis has as well – her mother, and Travis’ mother, who appears to be Vanessa, the young woman from the flashback. According to Jenny, the FBI showed up at the cult’s commune and started killing everyone, so her true intentions are unclear. Travis’ involvement with Jenny gets him in hot water with his girlfriend, Mel, which leads to an awkward confrontation on a busy Los Angeles street. Meanwhile, David makes contact with one of his old henchmen, someone he hasn’t seen a long time. Together, the two men begin a ritual of blood sacrifice involving a man Travis has been holding captive. This man, it is revealed, is one of his sons, all of whom have been promised as part of a sacrifice to the horned god who David worships.
Buccellato continues to build tension while simultaneously revealing his character’s family ties and their connections between the occurrences of the past and present. While there isn’t a lot of action taking place, there is a palpable tension being maintained and what action there is – the beginning of the sacrifice on page 23, for example – serves as a small release to tide the reader over until the grand finale that is sure to come once David and Travis, father and son, officially meet for the first time in a future issue. Buccellato is a master when it comes to pacing, and all signs point to an action-packed and bloody final confrontation to end this series.
Toni Infante’s art is as impressive as usual in this issue. Because of the lack of fast-paced action sequences, Infante must be able to use subtle gestures and facial expressions to help maintain the tension called for by Buccellato’s script. And he delivers, masterfully, on those subtle gestures and facial expressions. From the lustful sneer of a more youthful David, during the flashback sequence, on page seven, to Jenny’s smug smirk on page 10, to Mel’s look of condescension and anger on page 19, Infante breathes life into Buccellato’s characters. While Buccellato may write these characters as “likable” or “charismatic,” it is Infante’s artwork – his interpretation of these characters through artistic expression – that makes them truly likable or charismatic.
Sons of the Devil #4 does not disappoint. All the hallmarks of a good thriller are present in this book and in this series: suspense, tension, character development – all delicately balanced within the confines of a well-paced plot. Add Toni Infante’s brilliantly rendered art to Buccellato’s script and you get a comic book series that transcends the medium. Make no mistake, Sons of the Devil is not to be missed.