Written by Declan Shalvey
Art by Gavin Fullerton and Rebecca Nalty
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by Image Comics
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
If you’re looking for a straight out of Dublin grit and grime crime story, then Declan Shalvey, Gavin Fullerton, and Rebecca Nalty have a story for you in their upcoming graphic novel Bog Bodies from Image Comics. If you ever wondered what a comic would look, feel, and sound like if Martin Scorsese paired off with Michael Avon Oeming, this is a comic well worth checking out.
The story itself follows a young thug by the name of Killian, who botched a job for his boss, and now finds his partner and another gangster on his trail after a failed attempt to carry out a hit on him in the middle of the woods outside of Dublin. Along the way, he runs into Neave, a young woman who looks fresh from some physical altercation or accident but suffers from short-term memory loss surrounding her current circumstances. The two go on the run from Keano and the ruthless Gerry – an even more villainous hitman who is hungry to take Killian down. And it isn’t until they all come together in the bogs that their fates are decided.
There’s no denying the work Shalvey puts into the character development. From the young and failed Killian to the seemingly mentor-like Keano, these characters are criminals and flawed, yet there are also redeeming elements to them that will leave readers hoping against hope that at least someone makes it out the bogs of Dublin alive. And if you think of every masochistic dreg of a hitman, then you know exactly who Shalvey had in mind for Gerry – the real driving force behind this story. What’s really fascinating about this comic, however, is that Shalvey manages to pull off a real hat trick with Bog Bodies through simultaneously refusing to offer his readers a sense of closure for mainstream sensibilities while still delivering an incredibly satisfying “Ah…” moment at the story’s conclusion.
If readers aren’t familiar with Gavin Fullerton or Rebecca Nalty before this story, they’ve certainly set themselves up to become quick fan favorites. Fullerton’s line art captures elements reminiscent of Darwyn Cooke and Michael Avon Oeming while Nalty’s simplified colors keep from oversaturating and distracting the reader, and instead, allow the tone and atmosphere come across loud and clear. All in all, it’s a great approach for the kind of moody crime comic story they’re laying out. In full disclosure, I am a bit of a mark for this approach to coloring a comic, but it’s important to note that a more robust color palette would likely have spoiled the twist ending Shalvey has in store for readers, so beyond being a strong aesthetic choice, it’s also a really smart one for preserving the ending.
Readers will also quickly fall right into line with Declan Shalvey’s machine gun-paced dialogue as each character fires back and forth at one another. Written with a strong Irish voice in mind, some readers from outside of the U.K. may not know the denotative meaning of some of the slang, but it’s nothing that will get in the way of understanding what’s actually being said. In fact, the dialogue simply adds another convincing layer to the reading experience that helps give the story a “real” feel despite the more animated visual approach.
Overall, Bog Bodies delivers a powerful story of regret and failure in the context of a crime gone wrong and an Irish mob that offers no mercy for mistakes. And it isn’t until you get to the very end of this story that you come to realize the subtle ways in which this creative pushes the boundaries of the genre and offers something a little more different than what one might have originally expected from the start.