Bedlam #3 Review
By: Rob Gruszecki
Madder Red, a psychotic killer, terrorized the streets of bedlam for years, murdering countless people in cold blood without the hint of letting up. The deranged maniac then went through a twisted series of experiments and surgeries in an effort to rehabilitate and reintegrate him smoothly into society. This is the story of Fillmore Press, what remains of the sadistic murderer, heavily medicated, and set forward as an ongoing study of the concept of malevolence.
Is evil just something you are or something you do?
After a double sized introduction to the world of Bedlam and the previous crimes of Madder Red with issue one and a much more revealing chapter regarding his intense, gruesome and literal examination of his mind in the second, the third issue of Bedlam gives us a wider picture of Fillmore and his bizarre motivations to now be helpful. In the custody of local police after handing himself over to the authorities, Fillmore offers his expertise in the area of killing to detective Ramira Ecevido. What we get in this issue is a very frightening expose of Mr. Press as he presents a loveable persona. What makes this particularly scary is that we are consistently reminded of the reality of his identity and sick actions in the past but can’t help enjoying everything he says in his odd little word balloons. A real achievement of Bedlam is its almost effortless ability to give us a warped, horrifying protagonist that despite all his exploits still not only garners our attention but ultimately our affection.
Nick Spencer, the author of Morning Glories also for Image comics, is writing an incredibly twisted and disturbing horror story with Bedlam, one that immediately evokes revulsion, fear and suspense but also a darkly, vicious humor. Within the third issue’s first few pages we get a flashback to the day-by-day efforts to heal Madder Red, an awfully coarse and offensive procedure that all the while being just awful can’t help but evoke nervous and painful laughter, an achievement not easily stumbled upon. Cleverly written and sculpted, Spencer is heavy with dialogue but never excessively so as not a wasted word is put in the book. Fillmore’s exchange here with detective Ecevido is delivered in dense construction but effectively building each character to the point where I can hear Fillmore’s voice clearly in my head and it sounds like a cross between Moriarity from BBC’s Sherlock and Brad Pitt in Burn After Reading.
All of the gabbing back and forth would be nothing without the interior artwork however and luckily Bedlam features one of the most unique and incredible artists with Riley Rossmo. Riley’s previous works in Green Wake, Debris, Proof and Wild Children had contained some of my favorite pages in comics and Bedlam is no different. Rossmo’s character design for the insane Madder Red is weird and nightmarish, while his alternate personality of Fillmore is equally awkward but less sadistic and more a clueless Crispin Glover. Possibly the best feature of the ongoing so far has been the scarce appearances of the new serial killer running amok in Bedlam as Fillmore tries to help police reel him in. Appearing in only a few panels this issue and one particular brutal full page, this winged, neutered and cross-dressing angel of vengeance is drawn brutally beautiful. Rossmo’s talent in drawing the minutiae of a room, for example the interview room where Ecevido interviews Fillmore, is extraordinary as even these ordinary environments seem entrancing and slightly off, perfectly fitting for the tone of the book.
This was the issue that really sold me on my love for the series as its particular development of the dark past of Fillmore Press and infection of Bedlam and its inhabitants is thrilling to read and outstanding to look at.
Rob Gruszecki is a writer, musician and Wednesday warrior
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