Justin Jordan and Philip Tan’s storytelling for Issue Two of “The Curse Of Brimstone” must surely have provided a modicum of entertainment for many of this comic’s 20,244 strong audience in May 2018, what with its narrative’s emotional interplay between Joe Chamberlain and his strong-willed, determined sister, as well as the book’s subsequent brutal battle between the titular character and the Hound. But whilst the Pennsylvania-born writer’s script undoubtedly contains plenty of plot progression and pulse-pounding action, especially towards the end of the book as Annie fearlessly drives at the Salesman’s frosty servant in a car, the sense of personal realism which arguably made its previous instalment such compelling entertainment, is somewhat unaccountably lacking within this particular twenty-page periodical.
For starters, despite spending a considerable amount of ‘sheet-space’ patiently exploring the young man’s fiery curse, alongside his sibling’s almost simultaneous discovery of her brother’s fiery condition, the couple’s combined reaction to his apparent destruction of “the whole town” is to rather illogically seek out the “persuasive operative” working for the mysterious Home Office, despite the fact they know their “Dad’s out plowing so that emergency crews can get around. True, the pair quickly agree that “the devil” who transformed the jobless Joseph “tricked you into a bad deal with promises and persuasion”, yet as their father is out in such a dangerous environment, wouldn’t his children’s first thoughts actually be to ensure his safety..?
Instead, courtesy of the ‘partially destroyed’ small settlement’s internet contrivingly still operating, Jo and Annie assume an unconvincing ‘Scooby Gang’ mentality by investigating a “thread… about a town in Oklahoma where something like what you saw in your dream happened”, and resultantly soon find themselves unashamedly rummaging through the “only room rented out” at the York Hills Inn looking for clues. Unbelievably, to make matters even more coincidental though, this publication’s audience are then asked to believe the Salesman would leave his ledger containing all his “transactions” behind; “He destroyed them all. Every town was emptied out. One was drowned, another fell to… cannibalism. I think that’s what he wants… To make every place a nightmare version of themselves.”
Fortunately, despite Jordan’s script feeling somewhat reminiscent of a Seventies Hannah-“Barbera Productions” animated television series, Tan’s instantly recognisable artwork imbues this comic’s cast with plenty of animated life, even when the dialogue-heavy, somewhat sedentary scene in question simply depicts a naked Chamberlain being roused from a nightmare by his concerned, similarly red-headed relation, or Annie answering her mobile phone to discover her father “has told” this title’s lead antagonist “so much about you.” Indeed, the Manilan’s scintillating sketching of Brimstone’s battle with the Hound is debatably this book’s highlight moment, with the astonishingly swift, cold-hearted “demonic agent” appearing disconcertingly deadly even though she is facing a hero capable of manipulating Hellfire itself.