To be honest, supernatural and horror stories usually aren't my cup of tea. However, Damn Them All makes up for all of that with a killer creative team and an intriguing story leaving this reviewer wanting to learn where things go next. Charlie Adlard and Simon Spurrier are two pros in the comics sphere and quite adept with the horror genre. Together with colorist Sofie Dodgson and letterer Jim Campbell, Damn Them All introduces Ellie "Bloody El" Hawthorne, the newest addition in a long line of occult antiheroes you can't help to root for.
The pairing of Charlie Adlard, Sofie Dodgson, and Jim Campbell guide the reader through El's "origin story" of learning about dark magic from her Uncle Alfie, to fighting a conjured spirit at Alfie's wake, being a hired thug for a slimy mob boss, and discovering something is definitely wrong with 72 spirits set loose upon the world. The mood established by the colors and art perfectly matches the tone Damn Them All is establishing, of a dark and gritty world where something sinister is always lurking in the shadows. Even the reveal of Ellie Hawthorne is suspenseful since the reader only gets to hear her thoughts through Campbell's letters and Spurrier's words.
The art really goes to another level when a summoning occurs. Each page and panel ripples with pulsating energy, where you can nearly feel the stress and trauma bombarding every character. Spurrier aptly describes what it feels like when a summoning happens – the mere thought of seeing something undescribable appear before you should send bystanders into bodily convulsions.
Data pages pop up only a short number of times in Damn Them All, but what I like most is they aren't over-utilized. It's okay for other comics series to lean heavily into pages and pages of information, but if I wanted to read endless pages of text I'd read a novel. I come to comics for the art and the story, and neither is neglected here. This is where I like the subtle changes in the speech balloons when someone is muttering under their breath, compared to when they are speaking normally.
I'm looking forward to seeing Ellie "Bloody El" Hawthorne interact more with the mysterious New Orleans police detective, who seems to be interested in Uncle Alfie and Ellie. She offers the newcomer perspective of someone who is unfamiliar with the occult, with Ellie likely having to show her the ropes. You gotta enjoy a good ole fashioned "reluctant partners" pairing.
Damn Them All #1 is a fine entry point into this mystical world of gangsters, the occult, demons, and all that's unholy. The story can go in a number of different directions, with Ellie as the reluctant antihero tasked with returning unleashed demons back to the underworld where they belong. Damn Them All #1 delivers a killer creative team and an intriguing story leaving this reviewer wanting to learn where things go next.
Published by Boom Studios
On October 26, 2022
Written by Simon Spurrier
Art by Charlie Adlard
Colors by Sofie Dodgson with Shayne Hannah Cui
Letters by Jim Campbell
Cover by Charlie Adlard