Sebastian continues his investigation into the Juice Box Killer, while Sana continues her investigation into Sebastian. Will the dark truth about Detective Greene’s extraterrestrial connections finally be discovered?
Partners Sebastian Greene and Sana Fayez have spent the last two issues hunting the Juice Box Killer, who leaves his victims drained like an empty juice box. Sana has been instructed to keep tabs on Sebastian for his recent shady behavior, but little does she know, her partner has actually been taken over by an inhuman entity from across time and space. This entity will stop at nothing to maintain its cover as Detective Greene, while also learning about the human culture, and doing combat against other extraterrestrials operating in tandem with the criminal element in his jurisdiction. Weird Detective #3 chronicles the intersection of all the subplots introduced over the first two issues and ratchets up the tension as we move closer to the final act.
Weird Detective is a bit of a smorgasbord. A sort of all-you-can-eat buffet of different but complementary genre themes. The most overt of these is the Lovecraft-centric plot and bestiary. Anyone with a little exposure to the Mythos will recognize when they see a deep one or a Yithian, but anyone not familiar will be just fine. The series also blends elements of a couple of crime genres, namely those of the noir and police procedural distinctions. Of course, it wouldn’t be Van Lente without some humor included. In this case black humor, of a more subtle variety. (There are at least two other comic series that also operate in this circle of horror, humor, and crime: Alan Moore’s Providence over at Avatar Press, and Peter Hogan’s excellent Resident Alien set of mini-series also from Dark Horse. I highly recommend fans of those series to give Weird Detective a look, or if you are already a fan of this book, you should definitely check the other two out.)
Van Lente is a very suitable writer for this story. Doling out equal amounts deadpan dialogue and pulp sensibility, he presents a firm grasp of the various styles at work in this issue. Van Lente provides plenty of easter eggs and familiar tropes for each genre’s respective fans but manages to never be so heavy-handed as to scare off unfamiliar inquirers. He even squeezes in his own take on some familiar concepts, ensuring that Weird Detective isn’t just regurgitated fan service. The only detractors for some people will be the fairly nihilistic tone (as any good Lovecraftian story will have), as well as the more subdued and dark approach to humor that doesn’t necessarily resemble Van Lente’s other work, such as Archer & Armstrong or the absolutely stellar Ivar, Timewalker.
Guiu Vilanova’s art and Mauricio Wallace’s colors are a great fit here. Both artists take a “less is more” approach, clearly not feeling compelled to clutter the pages with extraneous detail. Vilanova’s simple yet satisfying panel layouts paired with the stark contrast of colors in Wallace’s palette are just more techniques that truly drive home the pulp and noir elements of Weird Detective #3. However, I personally have some slight issues with determining facial distinction between some of the male characters. I’m also not overly fond of the indistinct specks they use to represent everything from water bubbles to what seems like possibly floating dust motes. Ultimately, the art gets the job done very well but doesn’t necessarily elevate the storytelling as high as it could.
Weird Detective #3 is a firmly Lovecraftian offering with plenty of content to appeal to any fans of the horror or crime genres. Many others have failed attempting to blend the cosmic with the ordinary, but Van Lente succeeds by never letting these competing perspectives cancel one another out.
- Compelling horror/crime plot
- Attractive pulp/noir sensibilities
- Lovecraft makes everything a little better
- Nihilistic and dark humor may be too much for some
- Minor artistic drawbacks