Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Damned: Three Days Dead -- Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt

THREE DAYS DEAD is a graphic novel that reprints the first five issues of the comic book series THE DAMNED, plotted by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt, with script by Bunn and art by Hurtt. It starts out with a great premise: set in an unidentified Prohibition-era big city, the various gangs vying for control of the city’s criminal underworld are actually run by competing gangs of demons. Our protagonist, a guy named Eddie who may or may not be a private eye (I wasn’t real clear on that), has been cursed by one of the demon families so that he can be killed, but he doesn’t stay dead. Anybody who touches his corpse immediately dies of the same thing that killed Eddie, and Eddie comes back to life. One such violent resurrection opens this volume.

After being brought back to life, Eddie is given a job by the demon gangster he works for. A truce is being arranged between two of the feuding families, and the big-shot demon brought in from out of town to broker the deal has gone missing. It’s up to Eddie to find him before a gang war breaks out.

Naturally, the case turns out to be a lot more complicated than that, with stakes even higher than what Eddie believes at first. The curse comes in handy, since he gets killed more than once but always manages to come back to life and keep on investigating in the classic dogged private eye tradition. The wrap-up is no great surprise, but it’s handled very well.

In fact, I liked this whole book quite a bit. Bunn’s script is fast-paced and funny in some places, grotesque in others, and touching in still others. Hurtt’s art captures the Prohibition era and is effective in the horror aspects as well, and he’s a decent storyteller. The private eye/supernatural hybrid is a tricky one to pull off. It’s been used quite a bit, and most of the time I’m not all that fond of it. THE DAMNED does a good job of making it work, though. Recommended.

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