REVIEW: ‘The Devil’s Red Bride,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Devil’s Red Bride #1

The Devil’s Red Bride #1 is published by Vault Comics, written by Sebastian Girner, art by John Bivens, colors by Iris Monahan, and letters by Jeff Powell. Welcome to 16th century Japan. The land is awash in blood as the Kamimura clan invades its neighbors. Those who resist find only death upon the field. But from the ashes of the fallen clan Aragami, there may still be one left with the will to wield a blade.

Tales of swords and honor placed in the setting of feudal Japan are certainly not a rare commodity. Much like the European medieval era or the American old west, the era of samurai clans has been a favorite for creatives to return to for decades. And while many of the forays into these fan-favorite settings often gloss over the hardness and cruelty of their times for a more romanticized version of history, sometimes you run into a story that doesn’t mind getting itself dirty. This is the feeling I walked away from The Devil’s Red Bride #1 with.

Now, I’m no expert in Japanese history, and cannot speak to the accuracy of any given element in the story, but the story as a whole feels more believable in its presentation than many I have seen. As the land is ripped apart by war, times become hard for all. Cruelty and self-interest seem to be the order of the day. And for those who have been defeated, vengeance is the only fuel they have left to burn.

It is in this world that we are introduced to our protagonist Ketsuko Aragami. Daughter of a feudal lord, she wishes to do all she can to preserve her family’s honor. But, being born a woman puts great limitations on her options. Even though her brother is shown early on to be clearly less naturally inclined to lead their clan, she is pushed aside for him.

While I found myself immediately sympathetic to Ketsuko’s situation, The Devil’s Red Bride #1 doesn’t offer much to make her stand out from the bevy of other similar protagonists readers have seen. Her character is presented well, and there is certainly room to break the mold as her story is unveiled to us. But as it stands now, she is strong, if not stand out, the main character.

As the story bounces between Ketsuko’s past with her clan and her present without them, the artistic presentation does a great job of delivering visuals that fit the hardness of the tale. Bivens lines do a great job capturing all the brutality of war, as well as the emotions of the characters that partake of it.

The art is further helped by Monahan’s colors. Beginning with the introduction of the Aragami family’s blood-red armor, the color red is granted a strong presence amidst the pages here. Just like it’s an approach to its main protagonist, this concept has been fairly well played out before. And while it doesn’t do anything new with the concept, it executes it well here none the less.

Lastly, we have the lettering. This is the one area where the book straight up falters a bit for me in some places. Particularly when characters are whispering. These moments are distinguished by a lighter font color than other places, which ended up making it hard for me to read. This could be due to the digital review copy I received, so the print might not be as bad.

Along with this, the lettering uses a somewhat thinner font in general. For the most part, this is fine, except on a few occasions where punctuation disappeared on me. Accidentally running sentences together because of a period I had to look for twice to find took me out of the story more than once. The font does go well with the story, but I don’t think it’s worth its shortcomings.

When all is said and done I think The Devil’s Red Bride #1 is off to a solid start. It implements it’s core themes well, even if it doesn’t initially do anything strikingly different from them. If the creative team can build these early concepts out the book could yet grow into something more than a standard tale of swords and honor.

The Devil’s Red Bride #1 is available now whereever comics are sold.

The Devil’s Red Bride #1
3.5

TL;DR

When all is said and done I think The Devil’s Red Bride #1 is off to a solid start. It implements it’s core themes well, even if it doesn’t initially do anything strikingly different from them. If the creative team can build these early concepts out the book could yet grow into something more than a standard tale of swords and honor.