Freak Show Book 2

Posted: Wednesday, October 10, 2007
By: Darren Schroeder

Cover of Freak Show Book 2 Writer(s): Robert Curley
Artist(s): Declan Shalvau, Sean Phillips [Cover]
Publishers: Self Published
From: Ireland
Price: US $9.95.

1624 New Amsterdam. A woman dies demanding vengeance on the employers of her husband who killed him because he spoke out about their cruel treatment of slaves.

1958 Her spirit is disturbed and she ventures forth to sate her vengeance. The Freak Show team of psychic investigators is hired to put a stop to a string of bizarre deaths.

Coming to this series without having read the earlier issues, I found myself all at sea with this issue. The prologue set in 1624 is a moving introduction with emotional impact as it depicts the cruelty and violence of slavery. Once we jumped to the 1950s I felt the book lost its drive. The investigation team are not that interesting in and of themselves. There was a lot of interplay that hinted of a back story, but it was never recapped to any degree that the casual reader such as myself could work out why a group who bicker all the time would work together as a team.

The investigation itself didn’t lead to much excitement. Declan does his best with some interesting art work full of expressive faces and bold black and white contrasts, but on the whole the plot involves too many people who have agendas that are never made clear. Behind the scenes is some shadowy organisation out to do harm to our
investigators. But we don’t get any real information about them over the course of the 60 pages. The only real interest developed in the characters was in the way Declan illustrated their actions with the Anna May Wong inspired Piccadilly characters possessing an impressive series of transformations, stylishly dispensing vengeance.

Another problem I found was that the dialogue wasn’t believable for the period it was set in. 1950s children going “f**king this” and “f**king that”. Maybe that’s bit picky, but on the whole the book just didn’t create a sense of place in either its visual style or dialogue. A rather unsatisfactory read all round.

In a Word: Rambling.

If you have a comment or question about Small Press then feel free to contact me