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This story is a lie. Well most stories are anyway, but the creators of this book are making sure you know this. Why? The subject matter of Drums is so complex that to explain everything as it is would take an encyclopedia to explain one of the three religions that the title presents. But they accept this fact and say, "Hey bare with us, this is not an accurate representation of real facts but a layman's way to tell an entertaining story based on all of these religions." You see Santeria, Palo Mayombe and Candomble are all derived from the Yoruba tradition and all of them are very real religions. But the mainstream tends to confuse them with voodoo or satanism. Drums is a title that takes the source material seriously. Here they represent this with care, with detailed and fictional liberties.
If you like the X-Files, Drums is a book for you. A religious ritual goes bad and mysteriously sixty-six people drop dead at the site of this ritual in Santa Rosa. The Tampa police don't know what to make of this and they call the Feds for help. Now tough agent Irons and his inept partner are on the case. They think this might be a satanic suicidal pact, but the evidence doesn't add up. The pressure is on the department to close this case before it becomes a media sensation. The thing is that agent Irons is having visions. Visions of the dead returning back to life. Is this real or hallucinations from a drug they can't trace? To help Irons not to fall into a satanic cliché theory, they assign him an anthropologist to help him take his facts accurately. In the last few pages of the story, Irons interviews a leader of the Santeria community and she sees that there is something wrong with Irons like a curse, but she doesn't tell Irons because it seems like to her that the gods have some plan for him.
The art is perfect for this book – it captures the mood, the characters, and the interactions like a master painter knows where the color of the brush will strike. Very rich in detail, at times it feels like we are inside the panel watching these characters come to life. The portrait of mannerisms in every character is equally riveting as any actor at the top of their game. The use of shadows and the representation of the ambience comes naturally into the drawings. No flashy designs, just straight storytelling.
The story runs like any good cop drama. Attention to detail and mood, with a classic noir undertone. The story does grab the attention of the readers, but it also falls into the trap of every cop-clichéd story ever told: The tough character, the intelligent one, the obnoxious one, the scary fortune-telling and chasing the wrong theory. Many elements that have appeared in other stories are used here. But it is the choice of topic that gives this book a chance to be distinct among the same old-same-old police books that are being published out there. The topic is handled well with enough respect and care to present readers with enough detail and not sound like an educational course on the subject. One of the bad things from this issue is the cliffhanger. It doesn't have anything powerful to hook or prepare readers for the next issue.
It is an entertaining book and maybe even educational as it offers a glossary for readers who might pursue an interest outside the comic. It is too early to know if Drums is going to be a great series. The first issue delivers a strong start – part cop drama, part educational narrative with a hint of supernatural. If they manage to find the right balance, this book could be great. If you like police drama with supernatural undertones like Twin Peaks, you might want to pick this book up.
Overall score: 6.8/10
*Satisfactory - A title that's not for everyone, but has a few standout moments. Maybe if you have a few extra bucks it's worth picking it up.*