Reality Check #3 Review: Releasing the Devil-Inside
I’ve never seen a Batman-inspired comic book character come out of his creator’s head bust such lousy dance moves and I think that’s why I have been enjoying Reality Check
so much. Writer Glen Brunswick (Non-Humans
) is brimming with unique ideas and he puts them to good use here.
Willard Penn is a struggling comic book creator whose life is turned upside-down when his creation, Dark Hour, comes to the real-world in search of love. And unfortunately for both of them, Dark Hour wasn’t the only one who came back. His greatest nemesis, Devil-Inside, has come with Dark Hour so he can set the ultimate trap.
This series continues to bring action, comedy, tragedy and romance. It balances these elements remarkably well considering how hard a time some series have balancing just two.
Willard and Dark Hour still provide a lot of laughs. The funniest moment in this issue has to go to Dark Hour though, with his “groovy” dance moves. Allison, Willard’s old flame, isn’t as developed as either protagonist, but she is still written as a pretty caring person who you don’t really want to see get hurt, which adds to the suspense in this issue. That’s something this issue has which others didn’t. There’s also more tragic moments, of course.
None of these “sad” moments were as impactful as the first issue’s
. They had some flaws. When Willard is talking to his mother, she blames him and is unresponsive one minute and the next she’s willing to look through his comic book. The transition was really clunky. I’d like to partly blame it on the fact that this is a mini-series and Brunswick only has one issue left to tie up all of his loose ends, but he was doing well enough before. The moment between Willard and his brother Tommy was also frustrating and added to the trauma in Willard’s life. This actually feels like a pointless addition since Willard already had his “defining” tragic moment in this series regarding his brother Tommy.
Instead of these moments, I feel like Alison’s boyfriend should have been given more time to develop. He had more of a presence last issue and doesn’t even get any dialogue in this issue. I would’ve like to see his tense relationship with Willard and, inevitably, Dark Hour. I’m hoping he’s not going to be a throw-away boyfriend for Allison, who doesn’t seem to care for him at all despite her normally sweet persona.
The villain of this story is supposed to have the personality of the Riddler and the Joker and was visually inspired by Venom (these are the creator’s words, not mine). I like hearing Willard explain his inspiration to Dark Hour and how he was inspired by Batman. Dark Hour’s reactions are always funny and make me like his character even more. However, while adding some suspense to the series, Devil-Inside isn’t going to be as iconic as his comic book brethren. What I like about how Brunswick handles these inspired characters though is that he understands the difference between an “inspiration” and a “rip-off.” Dark Hour still feels more like Ash than Batman to me, but he’s still his own character, just like Devil-Inside.
The story is made much better with the cast of characters. The plot is a simple “save the girl” story made much more complicated with the character’s histories and the fact that Dark Hour came out of Willard’s head.
I’m still not a fan of Viktor Bogdanovic’s artwork and I’ve made that clear in previous issues. The artwork isn’t bad, but the backgrounds are often neglected and I don’t like the scrunched up features on character’s faces which are made by lots of line work. Some expressions are pretty good though, like Willard’s darkened expression. Devil-Inside has a pretty good design that isn’t a rip-off of venom. He’s a green mummy monster with black goo and he uses his wrappings to grab people. The artwork is solid and while it’s hard to pin down the tone of this story since it switches frequently, the art isn’t inappropriate.
This was another good issue with characters you can really get behind and a simple but enjoyable plot. Brunswick’s comedy has been getting better and better, and while the tragic element is weaker in this issue, there is some suspense and I can’t wait to see what unfolds in the final issue.