For the first time, the pace of City of Lost Souls has slowed down a little, allowing for both the readers and the characters to take stock of what has so far happened. After the carnage of the last issue Matt the undead serial killer probably now also counts as a mass murderer, and finds the ranks of his ghostly entourage swelled by the dregs of the human race he just gleefully slaughtered. Meanwhile, the sinister soul collector Soku begins to put his own plan into action, and even though it starts to become clear how much he has been manipulating events from the very beginning, exactly what he’s planning is yet to be revealed. The only thing we can be sure of is just how much more mystery there is to be uncovered.
Through spotlighting various characters, the story also properly introduces themes such as forgiveness, redemption and the human craving to find some kind of meaning in life, or in this case life after death and unlife. For a story that has so far been largely driven by a level of misanthropy and pessimism bordering on nihilistic, it’s an involving change of direction that adds another level to its nevertheless wonderfully realised encounters of monsters both phantasmagorical and all too human doing horrific things to each other.
A pair of pages particularly stands out, both for their identical panel layout and repeated artwork reflecting the personal journey the character they feature, and also by hammering home that even though pretty much every featured character is to some degree dead, it doesn’t mean that there are no more dangers for them. While an afterlife as a lost soul wandering an urban purgatory might seem an unappealing prospect for any shade, if it’s a choice between endless desolation or utter oblivion most people would opt for the former.
The comic’s Edinburgh setting for its real-world sequences are realised in greater detail, featuring identifiable graffiti-strewn alleys and the issue culminating in a confrontation beside the Scott Monument, a 200-foot Gothic spire in the heart of the Scottish capital that looks more or less like how you pictured Stephen King’s Dark Tower. The inventive brutality of the art continues to impress, with a particular retina-searing moment being a head half blown away by gunfire and a single round eyeball staring with blank vacancy at the reader, making you want to turn the page as quickly as possible lest it blink at you.
The issue ends right in the middle of a scene, but at
a pivotal moment when things look like they’re about to begin heading towards a
conclusion, and, we can only hope, some answers.
CITY OF LOST SOULS #4 /AUTHOR: JAMES MCCULLOCH / ARTIST: JANINE VAN MOOSEL / PUBLISHER: MOOMAC COMICS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW