Review: ‘The Damned Vol. 1: Three Days Dead’ by Cullen Bunn, Brian Hurtt and Bill Crabtree

The Damned Vol. 1: Three Days Dead by Cullenn Bunn, Brian Hurtt and Bill Crabtree
Oni Press (March 2017)

152 pages, $9.99 paperback; $1.99 e-book
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

The Damned Volume 1: Three Days Dead can only be described as horror noir. It’s set during prohibition, when mobsters and criminal organizations build fortune peddling vice to the citizens of the city. However, those sins are controlled not by human gangsters, but by rival families of demons. The long-standing feud between two of the families is about the come to an end thanks to a brokered deal to consolidate power. But before things can be finalized, the bookkeeper tasked to brokering the deal is kidnapped along with a ledger that could spell doom for all the families.

Enter the protagonist, Eddie. Eddie has a gift, or possibly a curse—he cannot stay dead. As soon as someone touches his corpse, that individual dies the way Eddie died, and Eddie himself is resurrected. Gangster demon Big Al resurrects Eddie to find the missing bookkeeper before things fall apart and war breaks out between rival families. He’s only got a few days, as tension is already running high, and the city is ready to erupt.

The Damned Volume 1: Three Days Dead is a classic noir story with a clever horror twist. The plot has all the twists and turns one would expect from noir. All the trappings of the noir genre are here—shady informants, mob hits, backstabbing—plus the added unique twist of demonology. Cullen Bunn really developed a believable story with rich, characters. Furthermore, Brian Hurtt’s art really serves to drive the story forward. Readers familiar with the duo’s previous series, The Sixth Gun, will be familiar with his sharp, angular style. This really works to illustrate the aggressive characters and their harsh realities. The art is enhanced by Bill Crabtree’s color work. Crabtree really develops the gloomy, shadowy world of The Damned with muted color palettes accented by a few bold reds to create sharp contrasts.

Overall, The Damned Volume 1: Three Days Dead is a really exciting, full-color graphic novel. Horror fans will enjoy the way horror is blended with noir to create a new, suspenseful hybrid genre. The plot twists and unique characters make it a fun page-turner that hooks the reader quickly and keeps them engage throughout the story.

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