In Review: Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Down Town #2

Be warned: Reading this could make you a fan of Dresden for life! Absolutely enjoyable.

The cover: Harry’s using his staff to keep this series’ supernatural being from smothering him with one of its mucky hands. I like how the monster is so big it doesn’t fit on the entire cover. I’m always impressed with big monsters, and this is a lulu of one. There are also some really nice coloring effects done with the energy coming from Dresden’s staff. What I’m not liking from this cover from Stjepan Sejic is the background. It’s been so faded and blurred that’s it’s impossible to make out where this is set or what’s occurring back there. A single color should have been employed, rather than this poor computer smear. Overall grade: B-

The story: Harry has brought Bob, “a spirit of pure intellect…trapped in a skull,” to the scene of last issue’s crime, trying to get his assistance with what happened. Their conversation soon turns to Harry’s protégé, Molly Carpenter, whose psychic abilities allowed her to get a glimpse of the victim’s last moments. A banging next door gets their attention, but it’s a laundromat. There’s no way the same thing that killed the pawn store owner would return, right? Never doubt the unthinkable in a Jim Butcher story. The beast is back, and it’s attacking the owner of the establishment. Butcher and co-writer Mark Powers have a nice battle go down that ends unexpectedly for Harry, getting a verbal clue for this mess on Page 7. The scene then moves to “Gentleman” Johnny Marcone, the de facto ruler of the Chicago underworld. He and his associates discuss what’s going on with the killings in his territory, unaware that outside the police are watching him. Back at Harry’s place, Molly walks in and gets in over her head with something she shouldn’t have played with. I’m enjoying the bouncing between characters, which mirrors the style of Butcher’s novels and I could spend an infinite amount of time with any of them, they are all so entertaining. I love the entity that Harry encounters in the last third of the issue, which is both cool and completely disgusting. The book ends with an excellent cliffhanger leaving me on pins and needles for next month’s installment. Such a joy to read. Overall grade: A+

The art: This month Harry looks a lot more angular than he did last month. He still is well drawn, by artist Carlos Gomez, though it did take a few pages for me to adjust to Harry’s pointed hair cut, which resembled David Tennant’s doo at times. Bob looks great. I loved the line work one on him and when energy bursts from his eyes on Pages 13 and 15 it’s just awesome. Harry in action is well done, throwing spells up and out as fast as he can, though obviously close to be overwhelmed, yet again. Molly is drop dead gorgeous by Gomez. The book could entirely focus on her, and I’d forget Harry in a heartbeat with her looking like that! I love that she looks like a strong wizard, but when things begin to hit the fan, as they do on the final pages, her face shows her to be a novice in over her head. Really well done. Page 16 is easily the best artwork of the entire issue. It’s a full page splash that has Harry in a new setting, accompanied by Bob, encountering a mass of something unexpected. There’s outstanding setting work done on this page, the creatures look great, and Harry’s jacket billowing out is stunning. I love this. Overall grade: A

The colors: For a book set primarily at night, Mohan expertly keeps things dark, but with everything visible. The browns used on the first page convey the destruction of the building, but don’t make the pages a dismal mess. Considering that Harry’s got on a brown jacket, that’s quite a feat. Blues are used to create the night, and that’s the perfect color to allow characters and settings to exist without being swallowed by the evening. Mohan’s lighting effects are well done, from Harry’s spell casting, the energy coming out of Bob’s eye sockets, to the candles lighting Molly’s way; the bright lights only emphasize the dark settings. Sounds pop out in gold and red throughout, making them seem particularly strong. Excellent job from Mohan. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, narrations, sounds, yells, scene settings, and an entity’s speech are all created by Bill Tortolini. I’m glad that Harry’s narration is slightly different from his speech, as narration should be a unique font. I wanted Bob’s dialogue to be a unique font as well, but the shape of his dialogue balloon and its color are used to make him stand out. The yells by Harry are a really cool font. They’re not just bolded versions of dialogue, they are a specific style that is outstanding. Overall grade: A

The final line: Reading this comic only encourages me to grab another novel by Butcher to continue my enjoyment with Harry’s magical mysteries. Be warned: Reading this could make you a fan of Dresden for life! Absolutely enjoyable. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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