The Nightbreed Retrospective: Part 3: Nightbreed Issue 3

Scan of my signed copy of Issue 3

Clive Barker’s Nightbreed Issue 3: Masks

Cover Price:  $1.95

Written by: Alan Grant and John Wagner

Artist: Jim Baikie

Letters by: Michael Heisler

Editor: Gregory Wright

Consulting Editor: Daniel Chichester

Exectutive Editor, Epic Comics: Carl Potts

Adapted from the screenplay by Clive Barker.

The dominoes have begun to fall, and hick police of Shere Neck mount up for the slaughter.  Boone has given up and accepted defeat, and all hell’s about to break loose down in old Midian.

My problems with issue two’s pacing are completely resolved in this issue, as the breakneck pacing actually heightens the tension of this issue, and helps to drive the story toward the big blowout finale coming in issue four.  This issue weaves the philosophical message of the novel/movie, that the monsters aren’t necessarily the ones who look strange, throughout the action and dialog of this issue.

The police are clearly the villains of this story, and are more interested in destroying the Nightbreed than they are in trying to understand them, and Lieutenant Joyce is the only one who argues against the whole sale slaughter that Decker has convinced the Shere Neck police chief of engaging in.  Decker’s motives are also laid bare at the end of this issue, as we are shown just how disturbed the good doctor really is.

Along with the police characters, we are introduced to one new character of real importance to the story, the Reverend Ashbury, a drunken man of the cloth who’s lost his way.  Ashbury is the only other dissenting voice among the lynch mob, and after his arrival in Midian, he is convinced that they are not waging war with the devil at all.

As I said, the message of the novel/movie really gets pounded home in this issue, and at times feels a little heavy-handed, although once again this can be blamed on the original four issue format of the adaptation.  The art is once again excellent, and the action scenes especially have vibrancy that helps to lend a very cinematic quality to the book.  The one thing that stands out like a sore thumb throughout this issue is the language, and this is most clear when the officers are using phrases like “friggin” and “Shoot” when it’s obvious that the authors wanted to use “Fuck” and “Shit”.  This isn’t so much a major negative as it is more just a minor distraction, and a reminder that this book was produced in the early nineties.  It’s one of the few little things that stand out in this book that seem incredibly odd, considering the source material the book is based on, clearly this series was aimed at an adult audience, but it makes sense that Epic wouldn’t want to push too many boundaries.

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