Overview

Welcome to Hoxford #1

Review

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Welcome to Hoxford #1

Credits

  • Words: Ben Templesmith
  • Art: Ben Templesmith
  • Inks: Ben Templesmith
  • Colors: Ben Templesmith
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Publisher: IDW Publishing
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Aug 13, 2008

In accordance with a new policy, America's worst criminals are sent to a private prison named Hoxford, run by a Russian corporation.

It is hard to conceive that anyone can be worse than the mass murderers, necrophiliac rapists, and other butchers that populate Hoxford Prison, but the conglomerate that runs the place may just trump their captives in brutality. The main character is Ray Delgado, a very troubled veteran of the Middle East War with homicidal tendencies. After killing a cell-mate, he is transferred to Hoxford. Following him is his doctor, the pretty yet tough Jessica Ainley whose intent to continue treatment for Delgado runs into the bureaucracy of the corporation running the Hoxford facility. Ainley bears more than a passing resemblance to Clarisse Starling from the Silence of the Lambs, but hopefully the character will differentiate herself as the series progresses.

Ben Templesmith does it all in this series: writing, drawing, and painting it by himself in inimitable style. Like his work in 30 Days of Night that made him famous, he delights in portraying the gruesome and sadistic, typified most strongly in the hideous rows of smiling teeth that his killers possess. His painting style consists of washes of color, in mostly mono-chromatic pages. It looks so simple, but closer observation reveals his mastery of light-sources and gradation of the colors. One wouldn't think that a page almost entirely colored in yellow could convey a sense of foreboding and dread, yet Templesmith not only succeeds, but makes it feel natural and appropriate.

As an introduction, Welcome to Hoxford #1 brings more than enough to justify a return trip to the prison facility. The mystery of the Russian corporation as well as the coming confrontation with Jessica Ainley are sufficiently interesting, but the most fascinating part of the issue is the idea that Ray Delgado, a vicious deranged killer is the driving force of the action. If Templesmith intends to make his the central character, it will be a test of his writing abilities to create enough empathy with such a brutal protagonist. In just one issue, we've seen Delgado murder several people, and his background is explored in nauseating detail.

As expected, the series is gory and bloody, and certainly will not disappoint those Templesmith fans who are looking for such things from his artwork. I count myself among them, but Welcome to Hoxford is much more. The back-story and mystery set up a much more compelling atmosphere than the action oriented 30 Days of Night. I am eager to read what Templesmith has in store for us in future issues of this title. An excellent debut issue from one of the masters of modern horror comics.

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