Review by Ryne Barber
This new three-part comic series from Radical Publishing drew me in from the very beginning. The gritty atmosphere of mysterious main character Ryder’s futuristic city and the noir-ish stylings of writer David Hine draw attention to the fact that something’s amiss within the new case that Ryder has taken on as part of his detective agency. He feels it too, noting that he normally gets a bad feeling about his cases at some point.
Ryder, with his gruff and to-the-point demeanor, is a PI living in the rough streets of a futuristic city. Illicit and hallucinatory drugs like Godspeed plague the citizens; bodies are found floating in the river all the time, a detail that Ryder hardly notices as he passes by a crime scene where investigators are extracting a skeletal body. The neighborhood is ravaged with crime, and the panels mimic the disjointed and dark world of the comic because of Wayne Nichols’ bold images.
Immediately, Katrina Petruska turns up on Ryder’s doorstep, a femme fatale who is implicated in her boyfriend’s murder after finding him with seven holes drilled into his head. Her demeanor slightly misleading and untruthful, Ryder begins to delve into the case with caution in mind, knowing that behind the murder, somehow, is the city’s most powerful family, the Danton’s. It turns out Petruska’s boyfriend was investigating the Danton’s, who he suspected were ancient daemons infused with a lot of physical power. After following Petruska to a sadomasochistic rave party, Ryder finds out all too quickly that the Danton’s are, in fact, a family of daemons, after he battles a giant behemoth with clawed hands and a beast-like visage. He’s saved by Charles Monk, a mystifying individual who carries a gun that shoots green bullets which make a daemon claw its own eyes out. After touching one of these bullets, Ryder’s in for a big surprise – a new limb.
Ryder on the Storm is filled with a sense of action and movement; even as Ryder gives exposition in his noir-like narrative, or when he gains information from suspects, there’s still the grit of the city working in the background. It’s evident that the city is a city of vice, from the cage match brawls of a former cop to the Godspeed drugs that pepper the crime scene, or the S&M themed “performance” of the orgies at the Lust Garden. All of this is heightened thanks to Nichols’ dirty images and the color palette: a deep gray or black with occasional colorful outbursts.
Ryder is a challenge to decipher, like all good noir detectives are, and his backstory remains hidden. However, it would be great to see some background exposition of Ryder’s former life, or at least the cases he has covered so far. When he remarks on his past cases, he says he generally gets a bad feeling from all of them, but it’s difficult to tell whether he’s like a John Constantine who covers supernatural cases for a living or just a regular guy who gets caught up in the weirdness of the situation. But it looks like Ryder will be progressing continually into new territory until the last issue, where the case will likely be resolved.
Slash to the Point: Ryder on the Storm #1 is a great introduction to the character and the city. It jumps right into the plot arc without stopping for extraneous exposition, and that’s a good thing, because it maintains Ryder’s mysterious morals and keeps the reader on edge, craving more from the action. Issues two and three are likely to pick up quickly where the first left off, and that seems pretty promising to me. It’s easy to get swept away in the storm.
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