TRAILER PARK
We're located at.....3149 West 111th Street, Chicago, Il 60655                                                              Call us at...773.881.4376                                                              E-Mail us at...arcomics @ msn.com
  COMIC REVIEWS
AT THE MOVIES
  KIDS CORNER REVIEWS
VIDEO OUTHOUSE REVIEWS
  REVIEWS HOME
REVIEW ARCHIVES
 
DEVIL'S ISLAND GRAPHIC NOVEL

Comic Review by:
"Sweet" Dan Sweet
Writer:
Nikola Jajic
Artist:
Josef Cage and Raymund Lee
Shipped on:
TBA
Publisher:
Arcana Comics
MSRP:
$19.95
 
“...the kind of story that is bound to be discovered and enjoyed again and again by fans of all sorts of genre fiction..”
You probably haven’t heard of Nikola Jajic, and that’s fine. No, really, it is. While this ISN’T the guy’s first foray into the world of Indy Comics/Graphic Novels/insert-clever-buzzword-here, “Devil’s Island” is far and away the author’s most prolific work to date. Is ‘prolific’ the right word? I could have easily said ‘coolest’ or ‘best written and illustrated’ (which would be several words). I could praise Jajic’s ability to weave an intriguing yarn from French history, a subject I know very little of. While each of those is an apt description of how I felt about the book, none really paint a complete picture the way ‘prolific’ does. It’s really THAT good.

Let me preface the rest of this review by stating quite clearly that I would NOT heap false praise upon this book if I didn’t really enjoy it. In fact, I’m not sure I went into this thinking I would like it; ‘Historical Thriller’-slash-‘Prison Drama’ didn’t sound like my thing. I remember first seeing unfinished pages pop up on Nik’s Facebook page, and thinking to myself “Damn, that’s really pretty, but Historical Fiction? Really, dude?!” It is with very little chagrin that I would like serve myself up a big, fat plate of crow, for it’s not until someone forces you too look at a subject more closely that you realize how wrong you may have been in your judgments.

Jajic opens the book with a dead body and a little levity, a gruesome combination, sure, but a good laugh mixed in amongst the rather heavy subject matter was unexpected, and appreciated. Readers are quickly whisked around on a tour of the island-prison before being introduced to one of the book’s central characters, Pierre, a prisoner charged with hunting down any would-be escapees. He and his band of Hunters make up the heart and soul of the story, a story about loss and penance, the illusion of freedom, imprisonment, and pain.

Pierre’s partners, Henri, Jean, and Rat, pass the time in their barracks when they aren’t tracking down other prisoner’s or disposing of dead bodies. It’s this juxtaposition of freedom/captivity that make the characters so endearing; they live in their cabin, enjoy tea/coffee, they sleep in beds, they even play cards, but they are NOT free men. Not by a long shot. Their stories with regard to how they came to be prisoners of Devil’s Island are tragic, particularly that of Henri, as these are mostly honor-bound men who simply made mistakes in judgment that resulted in life sentences. Other than each other, pain and anguish seem to be the men’s only companions.

Despised by guards and feared by the other prisoners, the Hunters can only truly trust one another. When their skills are put to the test tracking two extremely violent escapees, while armed more than sharpened sticks and knives, well, things get a little hairy. The book moves very quickly here, and despite their being the stars of the story it’s very easy to forget that the Hunters are NOT considered ‘good guys’ in their own world, which makes what happens next all the more tragic.

Jajic pulls a fast one on readers, diverting our attention away from the human-drama that until this point has driven the story, but only long enough to smack us in the face with it by book’s end. It’s a sneaky ploy, and he’s a sly dog for pulling it off, but it’s a truly effective move that I should have caught on to, but didn’t see coming. The action is intense, made even more so by everything that the Hunters have risked, and to borrow a phrase, the payoff is both ‘bloody’ and ‘satisfying’. Then Jajic, somehow, manages to up the stakes once more, twisting the definition of the word ‘freedom’, contorting it into some sort of dark, depressing place, removing from it any shred of hope or happiness. In other words, it’s heavy, dude.

Speaking of ‘heavy’, what a load artist Josef Cage was made to endure! In a book with no costumed heroes and villains beating the holy hell out of each other, Jajic delivers a story that is both interesting and as ‘adult’ as it comes. Cage’s pencils elevate that story and make it a sight to behold. I mentioned earlier that I was quite taken with the preview images that I saw a year or so ago, and thankfully the artwork is as consistently beautiful throughout the graphic novel as any of those pages.

Cage’s use of negative space, his ability to cram detail into a panel when it’s called for, and the opposite, his ability to take very little and deliver an emotional impact is extremely impressive. This is easily one of the best looking Indy books I’ve ever seen. I don’t know where Nik found this guy, but I hope he keeps him locked in a basement somewhere, chained to a drawing table, cranking out comics for a long, LONG time.

“Devil’s Island” combines all of the best elements of Historical Fiction, Prison Drama, Action Movies, and Revenge Thrillers, delivering a decidedly different piece of work. It’s adult in a way that most ‘Mature Readers’ titles only dream of being; it’s not a book that pulls its punches, and it doesn’t rely on in-your-face sex or violence to get its point across. It’s a well written and beautifully illustrated book that is deserving of your attention, and more than likely your praise. It’s the kind of story that is bound to be discovered and enjoyed again and again by fans of all sorts of genre fiction, as it grabs a hold of a reader’s attention on the first page, keeping it in a chokehold until the last. You probably haven’t heard of Nikola Jajic or Josef Cage, and that’s fine. No, really it is, because you will. Everyone will, and probably sooner rather than later.
 

All Books/Characters pictured herein are © Copyright 2011 by their respective owners. No rights given or implied by Alternate Reality, Incorporated.

Reviews © 2011 Alternate Reality, Inc.

RECENT REVIEWS...

0211
BOOK OF THE MONTH

"...Hickman’s story is phenomenal, but I don’t think it would be as emotionally arresting if illustrated by anyone else.” (DS)

1110
BOOK OF THE MONTH

"... I’m glad that the lunatic Scotsman has opted to stick around and expand his growing empire for another couple of years.” (DS)
1210
BOOK OF THE MONTH

“...I was under whelmed with the entire “Shadowland” series..” (DS)

RETURN TO TOP

 

 
 
OVER 1800
ITEMS FROM THIS MONTHS PREVIEWS
CATALOG ARE
DISCOUNTED
20%-50% OFF

WHEN YOU PRE-ORDER BY 102617!

 
ALL NEW COMICS
EVERYDAY FOR EVERYONE!
OUR BOOKS OF THE WEEK
1 KIDS & 1 MAINSTREAM NEW TITLE, EVERY WEEK, ALL WEEK LONG!
EVERY NEW 1ST ISSUE
25% OFF EVERY NEW 1ST ISSUES EVERY NEW COMIC WEDNESDAY
BULK SAVINGS
BUY BAGS, BOARDS & BOXES IN BULK AND SAVE!
HERO OF THE MONTH
EVERY MONTH WE SPOTLIGHT ONE HERO AND DISCOUNT THEIR
TRADE PAPERBACKS
25% OFF
 ALL MONTH LONG!
20% OFF EVERY 20TH
SAVE 20% ON THE 20TH OF EACH MONTH!
EVERY SUNDAY
ONE CHARACTER, HUGE SAVINGS
LADIES DAY THURSDAY
EVERY THURSDAY LADIES SAVE 20% OFF!
CUSTOMER APPRECIATION BUCKS
GOOD FOR VARIANT SETS, CLEARANCE COMICS & BACK ISSUES!
GOOD GRADES DESERVE A REWARD
BRING IN YOUR REPORT CARD!
YOUR CHANCE TO WIN!
EVERY MONDAY WE PICK A WINNER!
 

 A WINNER EVERY MONDAY, A DRAWING EVERY WEEK!
Rafflemania is your chance to win a collectable piece
 of kitsch, and it's free to enter. 
Below are some of our recent winners,
 remember...

YOU CAN WIN TOO!

ALEXIS WILLIAMS

OF CHICAGO
One of the winners of our
BLACK FRIDAY 2016
RaffleMania drawing!
She won a...

LAST KING BLU RAY

VITO CARLI

OF CHICAGO
One of the winners of our
BLACK FRIDAY 2016
RaffleMania drawing!
He won a...

LAST KING BLU RAY

MALCOLM CARTER

OF CHICAGO
One of the winners of our
BLACK FRIDAY 2016
RaffleMania drawing!
He won a...

LAST KING BLU RAY

BILL O'CONNER

OF PALOS HILLS
Winner of our 112116
 RaffleMania Monday Week #169 drawing!
He won a...

TEEN TITANS #12 BLACK & WHITE 1:25 VARIANT SET

QUINN

OF CHICAGO
Winner of our 111416
 RaffleMania Monday Week #168 drawing!
He won a...

TEEN TITANS #13 BLACK & WHITE 1:25 VARIANT SET

TANYA HUNTER

OF EVERGREEN PARK
Winner of our 110716
 RaffleMania Monday Week #167 drawing!
She won a...

MARVEL OVERPOWER MUTANTS UNITE STARTER DECK

SAMBINO RIOS

OF CHICAGO
Winner of our 103116
 RaffleMania Monday Week #166 drawing!
He won a...

SCORCH TRIALS NOVELIZATION

GRACE

OF OAK LAWN
One of the winners of our
 HALLOWEEN COMICFEST
2016 RaffleMania drawing!
She won...

$25.00 IN
BACK ISSUE BUCKS

CAESAR THOMPSON

OF CHICAGO
One of the winners of our
 HALLOWEEN COMICFEST
2016 RaffleMania drawing!
He won...

MONTSHO SHELBY

OF CHICAGO
One of the winners of our
 HALLOWEEN COMICFEST
2016 RaffleMania drawing!
He won...

$25.00 IN
BACK ISSUE BUCKS