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Ryder #3 Is “Pleasantly Creepy”

Review by Jason Green

It’s “wrapping up loose ends” time in the third and final issue of Ryder on the Storm, David Hine and Wayne Nichols’ pleasantly creepy noir-fantasy-horror hybrid, and Hine wraps up said ends in pretty much that order. The opening ten-page sequence shows Ryder in detective mode, finally getting to the bottom of the suspicious suicide-by-power-drill mystery that opened up the series. Next, the horror elements take center stage as Ryder, his lover Katrina, the grizzled vet Monk, and a tribe of sewer-dwelling “Mudlarks” lay siege to the Daemon stronghold, hoping to kill the “hive queen” that’s set to give birth to an army of ten thousand horrifying monsters. And finally, those ever present fantasy tropes of familial destiny and a century-spanning war between tribes are raised just long enough to answer a few dangling questions and (naturally) leave enough wiggle room for a sequel.

Much of my enjoyment of the first two issues of Ryder on the Storm centered on Hine’s script, especially its surprising twists and expertly executed tweaks on genre formulas. This third issue, however, the writing feels much more rote, much more “last 30 minutes of a generic action movie” than is typical of Hine’s work. The opening detective scene has Ryder claiming that he basically “knew it all along,” a claim that’s hollow bluster at best. The team’s attack on the Daemons also strains credibility, as it relies so heavily on the ridiculous premise that the Daemons believe Ryder’s now “one of them” that Hine feels it necessary to remind us over and over again that some of them don’t buy it, that not all of the bad guys are quite so gullible.

Fortunately, that’s not quite a big of a problem as it could have been because this is the ending: the setup was solid enough that Hine, for the most part, just steps out of the way and lets ‘er rip. In this last issue, Nichols (assisted by Hugo Petrus) gets all the good parts, from re-enacting the horrible “power drill” scene in particularly gruesome detail to the strikingly grotesque hive queen, whose two-page splash debut is the issue’s stomach-churning high point.

For an artist with a near photorealistic style, it’s striking how well Nichols takes to drawing fantastical monsters, and this issue gives him page after page to show his chops.

Colorists Feigian Chong and Sansan Saw provide Radical’s standard painterly colors, but also do Nichols a solid by subtly shifting color schemes from scene to scene, from the yellowish panels at Ryder’s apartment to a red tinge for the suicide scene flashback to a slightly otherworldly green at the Daemon compound.

Radical’s comics often give the impression that they’re movie pitches on paper, and Ryder on the Storm doesn’t entirely dodge that impression: in fact, this last issue drove home just how well the book would work as a mid-budget horror movie like Underworld or Blade. But, despite its stock characters, it does have a creative spark beyond its commercial ambitions thanks to some decidedly twisted ideas and gruesome imagery. It’s not high art, but it’s solid genre entertainment with enough twists away from the standard formulas to garner at least a mild recommendation.

Click here to go to this review at Playback:STL!

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