Kill Whitey Donovan #1 Review

by Jay Hill on December 03, 2019

Written by: Sydney Duncan
Art & Colors by: Natalie Barahona
Lettered by: Troy Peteri 
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

It is said, “When seeking revenge, remember to dig two graves.” That may need to be revised to “three graves” because in this story two young women begin to embark on a quest to do the titular deed and kill Whitey Donovan.

This is a comic that doesn’t waste any time or any pages. From the opening, you understand what the main character, Anna Hoyt, is about and what she plans. The details of the why, though, are being kept under wraps, but it is implied that it will be revealed when necessary. The writing has a novel feel to it (that’s novel the noun, as in literature, not novel the adjective) which comes as no surprise when discovering that writer Sydney Duncan has authored books in the past. She uses competent methods to add in the backstory, exposition, character development, and all other necessary elements of an engrossing story. And, although it features a sensitive subject and period, it is done with a touch of deftness that never has it feeling cheap, exploitive, or, at worst, ignorant. Anna Hoyt is written with great believability and is shown rough around the edges. Her “friendship” with the book’s other main character, Hattie Virgil, isn’t what you may think or expect. Their relationship is shown that, like the characters themselves, it has lots of room to grow. And growing is what I expect from this comic. It seems like it’s going to be a journey in every sense of the word. It sets up the characters, their motives, and their faults with the promise to deliver a story that will stay true to itself. And the crafting of the issue is so well done that by the time you get to the end and the shocking cliffhanger, it confirms the story has much more to show you.

Luckily for writer Sydney Duncan, she was paired with an artist just as skilled as she. The art is deceptively brilliant. The “cartoony” aesthetic is actually a proficient style employed by Natalie Barahona. It reminds me of another Dark Horse creator, Mike Mignola, who has chosen a style that he's made his own and can use it to execute very technically sound scenes that are hidden by their surface. It was first obvious that the art was something more than I originally categorized on page 3 when Anna’s escape is mirrored by young Anna’s joy. Then we get the full page of Anna stepping off the train and throughout the page are subtly beautiful images; the dresses worn by her mother and she are nicely drawn, then Hattie’s is seen tattered, the steam from the train billows, and the shadow of Anna is cinematically displayed. That’s when I noticed how great this art was. And Barahona being artist and colorist gives her complete control over the visuals. In that scene, she uses the hazy sun to great effect and the night scenes in the present-day are given a moody twilight touch. I loved the shot of the sleeping dogs. Not only were they drawn great, but the demonic glow given to their eyes hints at their allegiance. Duncan undoubtedly queued it up for them to be established and when they are brought back in the story it is made clear why they looked so menacing. That leads to the gorgeous shot of Anna’s first pull of the trigger. I could go on and on about the art because I genuinely enjoyed it. Barahona is an artist that doesn’t choose to just illustrate the story but chooses to express it and that is admirable.

This is a comic that lets it be known very soon that the people behind it know what they’re doing. The story isn’t just interesting it is executed in a way that its natural flow makes every scene gripping. The art is expressive, original, and adds complexity to an already complex story. The issue ends with proof that the journey has just begun, or perhaps, it may be over before it starts.

Our Score:


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