by Contributing Writer Keith Silva
Published by Image Comics
Creators: Nick Spencer, Riley Rossmo and Jean-Paul Csuka
What It's About: Get used to seeing Madder Red. And God help us all. Bedlam is a straight-up real horrorshow that gets down to the real 'meat work' about the question of evil and the greatest trick the devil ever pulled. Madder Red kills and kills and kills again with style and through an ersatz sawtooth grin as he quotes Rousseau and Stalin. Bedlam is on the mend (cured); at least that's what its political leaders tell the press. The story seesaws a decade between the time when Madder Red was a scourge, a stain on Bedlam and how a man named Fillmore Press (the man beneath the mask, maybe) is dealing with life on the outside. Press may well be 'Red,' but there's enough of a crack in the narrative to let all sorts of crackpot theories, ideas and 'crazy' fester. Bedlam #1 tells a complete story with potential to burn… perhaps it's true, perhaps, all some men want to do is to watch the world burn.
Why You Should Buy It: Rossmo and Spencer have created an icon in Bedlam's Madder Red. More than a scary face and a desire (a thrill) to kill, Madder Red, like the best baddies, has a philosophy, followers. Rather than take an inside-out view of a psycho killer, Spencer and Rossmo ask what happens when (or if) the crazy leeches out -- energy only transfers, it can never be destroyed -- what happens then? Oh, the evil that men do, eh? Rossmo scratches the Sienkiewicz itch and continues his chameleon-like gift to enhance a writer's voice with a chorus of techniques and blunt honesty. Colorist Jean-Paul Csuka affects a limited color palette that brings a sinister stillness to all the madness. Spencer channels old-school Frank Miller in his use of television and the media as an agency of distortion and half-truths. The best bit of sleight-of-hand that Spencer and Rossmo pull off is to make the reader root for the bad guy, the insane bad guy. Then again, in Bedlam, everyone's insane… and that's crazy good.