‘Alabaster: The Good, the Bad, and the Bird #3’ – Advance Comic Book Review

There’s a cadence to Caitlin R. Kiernan’s handling of language that lulls one into a dreamlike calm. Her words sooth the brain as they blanket over that part of us that has to listen to crappy pop lyrics, and political sound bites, and promises that everything will be okay. To a world becoming more akin to the one imagined in Orwell’s 1984, Kiernan’s poetry is a welcome return to emotional resonance through rhythm of speech – akin to some of the greatest writers. 

Alabaster: The Good, the Bad, and the Bird meets at the crossroads of genre and poetry, where the poetry breaks the rules of the genre while the genre gives reason and roots for the poetry to spring forth from. In this case, the swamps. The backroads. The pulp-ridden, palm-reading, witchcraft-tangled bayous of the South. Where even our villains are faced with the dangers of their actions. Daniel Warren Johnson visually takes us through this world like a master, building the reality from the base up in a way that some of our greatest filmmakers, like Andrei Tarkovsky or Werner Herzog, have in the past. An image that sits in my mind is one of animals fleeing from a fire while at their feet is a turtle pulled into its shell. How can it run from what is coming? Simple and lofty, these images are not chosen at random.

Sociopath twins dealing with the dark arts want to bring back to life a dead woman with strange powers. She was killed by her female lover who, with the help of a talking bird, now pulls off fake séances. These worlds are beginning to collide, and it's hypnotic following the disparate lines to where they’re going to meet. Mysterious atmosphere, the constant threat of otherworldly danger, and a morbid sense of humor tether these characters together in a very strong offering, which begins at probably my favorite series of covers of a comic in a while from Greg Roth – both haunting and romantic. If you’re going to make a great comic, start with the cover.

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