Written by: Laura Hong-Tuason, CC2K Comics Editor
A detective with no memory, no identity and no manners. A femme fatale seeking escape from a powerful crime lord. A voodoo queen with a penchant for mixtapes and hi-tops. A goat-eating TV… Welcome to Dedande City, where good people check under their beds at night and reality is never quite what it seems.
Writer: Dan Watters
Illustrator: Caspar Wijngaard
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Limbo #1 is a noir comic unlike any other. Described as a “surreal neon-noir series crossing 50s pulp with an 80s VHS visual aesthetic,” Limbo is captivating, mysterious, and mystical in origin. While still a crime story at its core, it is set in the realm of the supernatural. At first glance, Dedande City may appear stereotypically corrupt, but upon closer inspection is much more complex and bizarre. It’s a city where music plays a hugely haunting role in unraveling the secrets our dear protagonist so desperately seeks.
Clay is a man who finds himself in Dedande City with no recollection of anything before him, not even his real name. Becoming a P.I., he figures the more crimes he solves, the closer he’ll be to uncovering the truth about the city and himself. In the opening pages, he sits in a dingy bar admiring a meal of lizard-on-a-stick when he receives a cryptic call. It is the first lead he’s had in months, but is cut short when he gets himself caught in a bar fight. Upset and moving on, he takes on a case brought to him by a nightclub singer. She fears her drug lord of a boss will kill her for something frighteningly peculiar she saw that she shouldn’t have. Clay thinks the case is simple enough, but is up for a rude awakening.
Limbo #1 carries with it much strength, from its charismatic lead and mystifying supporting characters, to its enigmatic plot and spellbinding colors. If there is one detective comic to read, it’s this one.
Clay is charming, witty, and pleasant to follow along. He can be a straight shooter and awfully rude, but that’s the best part about him. His tendency to be honest and not think things through may seem like flaws, but they allow him to get things done quickly. So quickly in fact, it’s as if he had a knack for it in a previous life. And with no memories to make him skeptical, he keeps an open mind on all cases.
We only get a hint of how the other characters are like in issue #1, but writer Watters provides enough characterization to pique our interests. Sandy, Clay’s savior, practices voodoo, which is a mystery in and of itself. The nightclub singer may be up to something, but there does seem to be some truth to her words. And as stereotyped as her drug lord boss is, he could simply be a pawn in a much bigger conspiracy. Whatever the true answers are, Watters has set up multiple storylines in one issue, making it exciting to see how they all converge in the next five issues.
Limbo is not your typical noir comic. Watters and Wijngaard give the classic genre edge by mixing the visuals of the 50s with that of the 80s. Seeing cassettes, VHS tapes, and old video cameras joined together with supernatural elements warps everything we knew about the genre. The setting is dark, yet retro. It’s nostalgic, yet foreign. And despite the air of corruption, there is still levity. Put all together, Watters and Wijngaard have created a world that is simultaneously haunting and playful. It’s a world where anything and everything can happen, and logic doesn’t have to necessarily make sense.
Having followed Wijngaard’s art from his work for TPublications, I was already a fan coming in. For this first issue, Wijngaard is amazingly detailed where he needs to be. From the decorations on the walls in the bar and the costumed folks during Dios de los Muertos, to the streets of Dedande City, such details instantly strike uncertainty, urgency, and ominousness. He creates a subtly to each scene’s tone, which is elevated through his choice of colors. Most pages are filled to the brim with neon. His characters are in constant glowing shadow, hiding the true men and women behind the veil. The colors accentuate the supernatural and surrealism, as if Clay exists in nightmare. But beyond all the neon, there are also pages of brighter, calmer colors. It comes crashing in rather loudly and suddenly, seemingly indicating that even in the darkest of corners, there still exists light.
Limbo #1 is off to a promising start and the revelation of Clay’s true identity is sure to thrill. If you want a copy, it is officially out today. It is a 6-issue miniseries and published through Image Comics.
4.0 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.