Overview

Drums #1

Review

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Drums #1

Credits

  • Words: El Torres
  • Art: Abe Hernando and Kwaichang Kraneo
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: May 18, 2011

If I hadn’t recently read Michael Gruber’s gripping thriller Tropic of Night, I’d probably like Drums by El Torres, Abe Hernando, and Kwaichang Kraneo a whole lot more. Plumbing the same fascinating depths as Gruber’s seminal novel of Santeria and murder, El Torres and company lay the groundwork for a dark exploration of ritual killings revolving around a bewildered FBI agent’s initiation into the shadowy world of the supernatural.

It might be a little unfair to compare Drums to a novel as complex and intricate as Tropic of Night but the similarities almost beg to be considered if one has read Gruber’s book. That isn’t to say Drums is a bad comic. There’s a lot to like about this moody, atmospheric, supernatural murder mystery. The creative team is top notch and provides the book with a distinctive visual tone. Torres’ pacing is tight and crisp; his dialogue genuine and easy on the ears. It’s obvious the entire crew has done their homework. Unfortunately, it felt as if not enough of the intriguing details made it into the final product. This is a difficult point to discuss, as I’m sure Torres was diligent in his research. And when you consider it's typical of most fiction that ninety percent of this backstory will never make it to the final page, it begs the question: What the hell is this guy blathering about, then?!

Truth to tell, maybe nothing.

I just wanted a little more from the story. It felt too familiar. That isn’t to say I believe Torres is ripping off Gruber’s novel. Both plots are fairly conventional in the grand scheme of things. Gruber’s world felt more complete, fully realized. Santeria, shamanism, and the world’s tribal religions formed a complex, interwoven backdrop of besieged belief, paranoia, and white-knuckle suspense. Drums, on the other hand, feels as if ritual murder and obscure religious belief are simply a cool hook upon which to hang a rather typical supernatural mystery. A little more restraint on Torres’ part and longer serialization would fix this problem neatly, allowing the plot more time to unfold and the writer to infuse his world with a bit more detail. The atmosphere and texture oozing from Hernando and Kraneo’s distinctive art is sadly lacking in Torres’ script.

These are the reviews I hate writing the most. Drums is a good, well-crafted comic. I simply couldn’t get over the one flaw I could find in its pages to continue reading the series. Maybe Drums’ beat was just a little too elusive for me but I urge you to give it a shot and make your own determination. It might be just the rhythm you’re looking for this summer.

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