Realm Of The Damned is the first comic book release from former October File bassist Steve Beatty, written by Alec Worley (Age of the Wolf, Judge Dredd, Past Imperfect) and illustrated by Simon Parr (Judge Dredd vs Zombies, 2000AD, Time’s Arrow). Realm of the Damned is set in a world where vampires rule the roost, and the Vatican is attempting to fight back in a desperate bid for humaity’s survival, so naturally it falls to famed vampire hunter Van Helsing to save the day, and includes such weirdness as a group of young metal fans invoking a demon into existence, a mummified criminal kingpin, and the worlds first artificial human . Pretty strange stuff, as you can probably imagine.
As for the comic itself, it clearly doesn’t take itself too seriously, but the action is still gritty, intense, and definitely not child friendly. Rarely a double page spread goes by where there aren’t lashings of gore taking over the page like a crimson tidal wave, or a violent act that you wouldn’t want your kids re-enacting taking place. And yet the comic still manages this without reverting to excessive levels of cheese or traditional, worn out horror tropes.
The comic’s art is incredibly heavily stylised, bringing to mind the work of Stan Miller on Sin City and 300, predominantly black and white with splashes of colour where necessary for impact. Heavily detailed, but not distracting to the point where you forget about the story just to gaze into the artwork dumbfounded, it compliments the book’s full tilt action perfectly.
The characters dialogue lightly toes the line between edgy grittiness and close to the knuckle humour, and the characters themselves fall way outside what you’d expect to feature within a horror comic in which vampires essentially rule the earth (we all have expectations there, right? No? Just me?). The story, in fact, would be extremely good serialised in a similar way to The Walking Dead or American Horror Story, providing interesting characters, scenes and backgrounds for the reader to lose themselves within. The further you get into the book, the more believable the world is, the more it jumps off the page and drags you into it, testament to the great art direction and the near-lifelikeness of the character’s personalities. The comic has plenty of references for black metal fans, including it’s own resident black metal band, Sons of Balaur, and nods to many of the genre’s royalty including Behemoth and Emperor, further bringing the world to life with real life references.
Although initially penned as a stand alone comic, I have no doubt in my mind that Realm of the Damned has exactly what it takes to become a cult classic, and spawn at least one or two sequels. It would be a shame to let a world as vivid and interesting as this go to waste on just one outing.
An immersive, gore-fuelled horror-fest from two of the finest writers/artists in the modern comic book game. Particularly appealing to fans of black, death or extreme metal.