The Devil's Cut #1 Review: An Outstanding Collection of Comics Talent

DSTLRY's debut publication features 11 stories from some of the most celebrated creators in comics today.

When San Diego Comic-Con rolled around this summer, I only had one request for a friend attending the show: "Snag me a copy of that DSTLRY one-shot if you can." The Devil's Cut #1 (or "that DSTLRY one-shot") is an anthology collecting samples of new work from the initial creative line-ups for DSTLRY's fall debut as the newest publisher in the direct market. Founded by former ComiXology CEO and co-founder David Steinberger and former ComiXology head of content Chip Mosher, DSTLRY is set to begin releasing new comics in stores and on their own digital platform this fall. The Devil's Cut aims to let readers know what they should expect.

While readers' faith in another digital platform established by Steinberger after ComiXology's disturbing collapse may vary, the standard of quality established and maintained by Mosher is sufficient to draw eyes on the physical publications at the very least. That's a good thing for The Devil's Cut as the oversized anthology serves to showcase a wide array of artists in the best format imaginable. Pages larger than any standard laptop or tablet screen deliver the work of Christian Ward, Elsa Charretier, Becky Cloonan, and many others at an absorbing scale that encourages readers to linger with every page turn. It is a striking collection of work that reminds readers with each new story that this is a who's who of current comic book artists and writers.

Readers who have grown cynical paying for other publisher's "hey, look at this" teaser collections, like those offered annually at Marvel and DC, will be pleasantly surprised by the contents of The Devil's Cut. Although a majority of the 11 stories contained within are planned to connect with new ongoing or mini-series, each installment functions as a short story unto itself – like a volume of comics poetry. The only exception to this approach is Mirka Andolfo's "A Blessed Day," which makes itself the most forgettable inclusion by essentially pitching readers on a new premise without bothering to deliver a story or strike a compelling tone.

Most others, like James Tynion IV and Christian Ward's "Spectregraph," provide a very brief narrative in the range of 4-8 pages that, like a good ghost story, rely as much on mood and style as plot to deliver a brief, but enthralling read. "Spectregraph" quickly moves through the paces of a supernatural mystery, setting up some unknown technology and unleashing its terror with Ward's stunning compositions and making its twist unforgettable. Learning that there may be more to this concept is a bonus as the story earns its space without needing to go on. That sort of approach is a rarity in modern, direct market comics; it speaks to the skill and outlook of creators and editorial alike with an emphasis on quality over quantity.

Considering the collected artistic talent on display, that approach makes The Devil's Cut stand out as perhaps the best anthology issue published this year. Readers witness Charretier having a tremendous amount of fun with spy tropes, Eduardo Risso summoning the American West with rich watercolor effects, and Becky Cloonan collaborating with Tula Lotay in a frightening, dreamlike style not seen since the heights of By Chance or Providence. Collectively, they assemble the sort of anthology that invites readers to take some time with each story before moving ahead. Every page demands a reader's full attention and the styles displayed range so widely that a brief pause is warranted even after a 4-page read.

Regardless of what the future holds for DSTLRY and its proposed innovations for the comics market, it's clear that the publisher is already curating some of the best talent available today. The Devil's Cut does much more than offer a taste of what future series may intrigue readers, it delivers a satisfying anthology unto itself with a higher hit-miss ratio than any other collection I've found in 2023. Don't miss this introduction as the series set to follow already seem set to provide some of the best new reads for the year to come.

Published by DSTLRY

On August 30, 2023

Written by James Tynion IV, Marc Bernardin, Elsa Charretier, PK Colinet, Stephanie Phillips, Mirka Andolfo, Jock, Brian Azzarello, Scott Snyder, Jamie McKelvie, Ram V, Becky Cloonan, and Tula Lotay

Art by Christian Ward, Ariela Kristantina, Elsa Charretier, Joëlle Jones, Mirka Andolfo, Jock, Eduardo Risso, Francesco Francavilla, Jamie McKelvie, Lee Garbett, Becky Cloonan, and Tula Lotay

Colors by Christian Ward, Lee Loughridge, Nick Filardi, Joëlle Jones, Mirka Andolfo, Jock, Eduardo Risso, Francesco Francavilla, Jamie McKelvie, Becky Cloonan, and Tula Lotay

Letters by Aditya Bidikar, Bernardo Brice, Clayton Cowles, Lucas Gattoni, Fabio Amelia, Arancia Studio, Jock, Jared K. Fletcher, AndWorld Design, and Richard Starkings

Cover by Jock