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12
4.8 out of 5 stars
Bedlam Volume 1 TP
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 12 November 2013
Wow this book is awesome! Its dark, black humored and like the title says, so messed up in a good way! This is a must buy whoever you are, I will say that it is quite text heavy but you won't care due to the story and characters and the pure awesomeness!!!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 6 August 2013
What I like most about Bedlam is that the de facto "hero" of its noir-inspired universe - a guy oh-so-facetiously called `The First' - is relegated to the margins of the work, dismissed as a curiosity and given what is undoubtedly the least significant narrative role of any of the comic's characters. We know he's a hero because his attire is so laden with all of the visual signifiers we've come to expect from that archetype: a long flowing cape, an armour-like, skin-tight bodysuit tailored to show off his ridiculous Adonis physique, and a head piece which, of course, obscures his true identity. But what soon becomes apparent is that `The First' has no true identity (at least not yet - the comic is on-going), and if we look closely at the few panels in which he makes an appearance, we can see that his mask is blandly anonymous: a completely featureless blank surface. Indeed, he doesn't look like anything so much as an artist's wooden mannequin, something deliberately under-designed. And on the rare occasions that he does show up, the illustrations always seem unfinished, as if Riley Rossmo - whose inky, loose artwork is usually so concerned with transmitting expression, detail and atmosphere - just couldn't be bothered.

My over-laboured point is that the featureless-ness of this hero (featureless in terms of his dress and his personality) is no happy accident, nor is it the result of lazy writing. The world of Bedlam comprises much of the stuff of familiar super-hero comics, but writer Nick Spencer doesn't care about the individualist mechanisations of a blandly moralistic hero. Rather, Bedlam takes as its subject the philosophy of evil, and poses its major question in a provocative by-line "Is evil just something you are, or something you do?". And so `The First' is representative of the entire visual and narrative aesthetic of Bedlam, a comic that hugs genre conventions close with one hand, and stabs them in the back with the other.

Bedlam's primary focus is the fidgety and garrulous Fillmore Press, a one-time murderous psychopath who worked under the guise of `Madder Red'. Fillmore has spent 10 years undergoing a kind of psychotropic therapy that has erased all of his homicidal tendencies and moulded the former super-villain into an upstanding member of society. The story of his treatment is intermittently told in flash-backs, made visually distinct from the `present day' scenes by an ingenious pallet swap. Fillmore has entered into an informal working partnership with detective Remira Acevedo, and together they attempt to discover the identity of the city's newest serial killer.

There's a lot of dialogue in Bedlam, and it's a testament to Riley Rossmo's abilities as an artist that long sequences of convoluted exposition (that often veer dangerously close to plain old info-dumping) always remain visually interesting and inventive. Juxtaposed against these explanatory conversations are frequent passages of uber-violence and gore, characterised by a liberal application of splashy red ink. But for me the comic's most successful moments come when the two leads - Fillmore and detective Acevedo - interact. There's a definite odd couple vibe to their relationship, and the tension between Fillmore's Joker-esque anxious hyperactivity, and Acevedo's cool professional focus is a delight to watch unfurl. This contrast plays out on a visual level, too, with Rossmo's contrasting character designs offering the perfect complement to Spencer's lively dialogue: Fillmore is all messy corners and pale skinny-ness, whereas Acevedo's lines are confidently curved and definite.

As Bedlam is still on-going I can't write about the plot in any completionist sense, but writer Nick Spencer's refusal to let the comic settle into any kind of monthly status-quo is refreshing and keeps the tension high. I'd be surprised if Fillmore Press has really become the wholly new man he attests to being; there's too much of a disparity between his former identity as the truly terrifying and psychotic Madder Red, and his new life as the helpful assistant to a detective - I just don't trust him... And I wouldn't be surprised if, in a further development of Bedlam's refusal to re-cycle old comic clichés, the as-yet unknown serial killer doesn't have some philosophically complex motive that belies the seemingly base sadism of his acts.

Bedlam doesn't always hit the mark: the chain of murders inspired by various biblical figures and punishments is already a cliché of middle-brow crime fiction, even if it is given a moderately fresh take here. Elsewhere, many of detective Acevedo's actions - such as giving Fillmore access to ludicrously high-level information and materials - seem at odds with her pre-established concerns for professionalism and propriety; such actions seem, to me, more in service to driving narrative momentum than to saying something about Acevedo as a character. But these are small niggles in what is an otherwise very successful new comic, one that challenges the precepts of its own genre, while simultaneously remaining deeply respectful and enamoured of its forbears.
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on 5 November 2014
Seriously awesome book, I would recommend it to anyone who loves the horror genre and has a twisted sense of humour. Really not for everyone (it depends on how much kitten murder you can take in one page) but I'd recommend it to anyone who might listen (believe me, I have). The writing by Nick Spencer is dark and witty and the art by Rossmo (and also the colouring, including an ingenious palette swap) captures the horror, violence and the world of Bedlam in general. This is a very dialogue heavy comic, but you don't even notice as the characters (especially Fillmore/Madder) and story are so interesting, it reads like you're watching a T.V. show and it ends on a nice cliffhanger (I ordered volume 2 in a few seconds after reading the last page).
A bloody brilliant read.
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on 29 April 2015
The Madder Red brings madness to a new level!
Wow this first volume blew me away with its dark crime theme with both horror and gritty action! The Madder Red csn easily be compared to The Joker of Gotham as his atrocious villainy is taken to rarely seen heights!

The twist in this book you might ask?
Now that is the most amazing part. Imagine this mad villain turned good? Imagine the antagonist turned into a protagonist; good of heart. Can he be trusted as the city tears itself apart? Can they afford not to?
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on 9 August 2014
Brilliant storylne, disturbingly great artwork. Straight from the off you are drawn into the murky town that was once dominated by Madder Red, and the first few pages you find yourself hating him (for one reason in particular!). But as you go through the novel, you find yourself rooting for him. Something different to zombies and vampires.
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on 21 May 2014
Bought this on recommendation's I read online and I wasnt disappointed.
If your looking for something new to read this is it. Rather dark, and full of violence, lol, which got me some funny looks on the bus. But its great.
Have read the 2nd one as well, also brilliantly done.
Love the artwork and storyline. 10/10 :-)
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on 12 May 2014
Just as you would expect. Well presented and different in a good way. My daughter really enjoyed it. Certainly recommend.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 6 May 2013
I LOVED the story is also really good. Good character development. BE WARNED THIS IS NOT ONE FOR THE KIDS. Starts off right away grabbing you by the throat. I really dont want to ruin the story as it was treat not knowing anything about this and each page turn was thrilling. 100% recommended.
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on 31 May 2014
This is a must read , i loved everything about this book from the story to the art , amazing
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 12 November 2013
It's dark, dark as it gets but behind that I'm not sure there's much substance to it. I'll probably pick up the next one but not high hopes for it.
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