Fell Vol. 1: Feral City (Image Comics)

fellheaderRichard Fell fights a one-man war to clean up the cesspool of Snowtown in this twist on the detective genre from Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith.



128 pgs. FC; $14.99

(W: Warren Ellis, A: Ben Templesmith)


Richard Fell is a police detective who has been transferred to every cop's worst nightmare — Snowtown. The entire town is a derelict cesspool of crime, and Fell decides to clean it up one despicable, twisted criminal at a time. As he alone crusades against the crime the Snowtown PD turns a blind eye to, he makes it his mission to save the few innocents trapped in this terrible town.


The cover to Fell Vol. 1: Feral City by Ben Templesmith. Click thumbnail for a larger image.Fell is one of those comics that pretty much has it all. Of course, with the creative team of Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, Planetary) and Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night, Wormwood), how could it not be? It's easy to see why Ellis is one of the most sought-after talents in comics today; his dialogue and characters are better than ever here. Templesmith introduces us to the nightmarish landscape of Snowtown with bold use of color and a unique style that seems almost to move on the page.


Ellis proves himself a master of the medium in this series through his handling of single-issue story lines. Every issue can stand alone as a tight, well paced crime story, but there is also an over-arching plot progression as Detective Fell's dark past is slowly revealed and he grows close to Mayko, the attractive owner of his neighborhood bar. Fell reminds us how similar comics can be to TV shows with its' issue-long "episodes". Ellis avoids being as formulaic as some television crime dramas by changing up the way stories are delivered, and fully utilizes the flexibility of the comics format.


The art of Fell drives the stories almost as much as the actual writing. Templesmith's art is beautiful and eerie. He gives characters such convincing emotion and personality, it's easy to forget they're only drawings. Brilliant colors fill each page, proving that a book doesn't have to be colored entirely in deep blues and grays to seem dark and creepy. Thanks to Templesmith, Snowtown and its' inhabitants at once seem completely real and like side effects of a bad trip.


As you may expect from both Ellis and Templesmith, Fell does have quite a bit of adult content. Most stories have violence and harsh language, and all are downright disturbing. This is not a book for young readers, and some adults will find certain situations in this volume tasteless. That said, any fan of the creators or of the mystery, crime, and horror genres will love Fell. It blends beauty, cynicism, squalor, and dark humor into one of the best comics being published. | Elizabeth Bolhafner

Click here to read a 6-page preview of Fell Vol. 1 from the PLAYBACK:stl archives.

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