Written by: Laura Hong-Tuason, CC2K Comics Editor
Richard just wanted to jump off a bridge. He got more than he asked for.
Writer: Dan Watters
Illustrator: Caspar Wijngaard
Colorist: Jan Wijngaard
Before I begin, you can read my review of Tortured Life #1 here. The copy I reviewed a year ago was a rough one put out by TPublications for their Kickstarter. Since then, they have released a remastered version, which is far better and available to read for free on the TPublications website. With this said, *minor spoilers* ahead for my review of Tortured Life #2.
When we last left Richard Carter, he was about to jump off a bridge and end his life. Why? Because he is inflicted with a strange ability. He can see how everyone will die, and it’s a nightmare. When he arrives to his bridge of choice, he sees a beautiful woman strolling towards him. She is like his guardian angel, a bright light of life against the dark backdrop of horrific deaths. He cannot see how she dies and it’s a miracle.
This woman, he finds out, is Alice McNeilly and she’s already dead. However, this causes more alarm than relief for Richard. Alice can’t really explain it, but Richard appears to be the link between the world of the living and the dead. This revelation becomes interrupted by the arrival of the mysterious Bloody Man, with the plot moving on from there.
The writing duties for this issue (and the four subsequent issues) shifts from Neil Gibson to Dan Watters, who makes his TPublications writing debut. If we were to compare the change of writers from Issue 1 to Issue 2, you would hardly notice the difference. Taking the reins, Watters is flawless and his characterization of Richard is naturally humorous while simultaneously sympathetic. Richard may start off as a sad sack in Issue #1—and with good measure too—but he’s also quite a lively character with a bit of compassion. Still, he’s a huge fouled-mouth coward, which makes for a fun ride while reading.
Caspar Wijngaard continues the illustrations, with colors by Jan Wijnggard. This brotherly duo makes the art captivating, bringing out the dark comedic tone of the series. The bright colors may appear to hint at a very bubbly story, but the plot really deals with much heavier content. That is, death, monsters, guts, and the works. Though it’s this juxtaposition of the art with the story that makes Tortured Life exciting, fun, and horrific all at the same time. Readers may laugh at Richard’s antics on one page, but on another, the art can instill a sense of fear for Richard’s life.
Like his other illustrated works in such comics as Twisted Dark and Tabatha, C. Wiijngaard never leaves out the details, which is absolutely admirable. From the background to the adornments minor characters wear, he thinks of it all. And compared to his previous work—Tortured Life #1 included—he really stepped up his game in this issue. The level of detail he puts into a character’s expression is incredible. It may just be a small change of the lips from one panel to the next for example, but that subtlety says a lot about a character’s state of emotions. Add on J. Wijngaard’s pastel-inspired tone of colors and the art is breathtaking. Even the appearance of The Bloody Man is something to be in awe at, being both frightening and mesmerizing.
Combined with the writing, Tortured Life #2 is a remarkable issue all around. The pacing was perfect and readers got a better understanding of how Richard and Alice’s fate are interconnected in a brief amount of time. The Bloody Man may have only arrived, but there’s plenty of him to go around in the last four issues.
5.0 out of 5.0
Author: Laura Hong-Tuason, CC2K Comics Editor
Laura is a writer from the San Francisco Bay Area, but currently resides in Southern California. She drinks too much milk tea, talks too much about Green Lantern, and would marry Barry Allen if he were real.