Trippy, with a side of potential.
Know how you feel when you wake up somewhere other than at home and you freak out for a second before realizing where you are? Reading Drumhellar #1 is like that.
When a comic starts off with its title character dressed in a bathrobe, you might think nothing out of the ordinary is going on. But when that bathrobe-clad character is on a golf course in the middle of a thunder storm and deliberately allows himself to get struck by lightning, which sends him into a hallucinogenic state that produces a vision of a full-grown peacock that lays an egg that explodes insight directly into his brain followed by a waking conversation with an imaginary friend who lurks in the golf bag, you might think that Drumhellar #1 is going to be one trippy ride.
And it is.
Drum Hellar is a paranormal investigator who had to use the lightning strike to get on the trail of the “something big” that is coming because he lost his gear (drugs used to induce his revelatory hallucinations) to Bubbles. Drum goes to his ex-girlfriend, Padma, for help and returns her lightning-singed bathrobe. He doesn’t get a warm reception, “What, you couldn’t call ahead and give a girl a chance to fake her death?”
Together they set off to a marsh during the night where Drum pulls a bogman out of the muck, intending to revive him and question him about the supernatural doings in the area. He also finds a rare variety of lotus that shouldn’t exist in the marsh. In the end, the bogman induces Drum’s out-of-body hallucinations and he learns—well, I’m not entirely sure what he learns. There are images of a western town and horsemen along with a crow and his two ex-girlfriends.
Riley Rossmo’s art moves smoothly from reality to the bended dream states that resemble a cool type of street art. The impression of the impending “something big” comes mostly from the panels where Drum is in an altered state, and Rossmo twists those visions with lush colors that almost mask the fact that something isn’t right.
Like I said, the latest offering from Image Comics’ Shadowline imprint is trippy. Unfortunately, Alex Link and Riley Rossmo have dropped us on our heads into a shifting reality without giving us much more than pieces of information lacking a sense of urgency that might endear us more to the main characters. However, there are some cool supernatural elements at work here—Drum’s abilities, Harold the not-so-imaginary friend, the werewolf bite, the bogman’s search—that have the potential to coalesce into an interesting story with future issues. But this comic is going to be a slow build to answers, so live with the myriad questions it raises and adjust your expectations accordingly. Or to put it another way—enjoy the trip.
Alex Link (W), Riley Rossmo (A) • Image Comics – Shadowline, $3.50, November 6, 2013