Well, here we are. Issue four of four. Does Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter present a satisfying conclusion to the story, or does it lean too heavily on building a sequel hook? How fare David Dastmalchian (writer), Lucas Ketner (artist), and Lauren Affe (colorist) in delivering a final issue? Let’s find out.
The final issue is perhaps the best of the four. The vital elements are all in place and Jerry has her first self-imposed mission and the plotting fires on all cylinders.
We also get some clarification on some other issues; namely why Jerri’s life seems to be such a mess. It comes down to unresolved trauma. The situation Jerri deals with is very much timeless in the sense that it is something women still deal with today and it adds a lot of weight to her actions throughout the series as a whole. She starts off as a mess, but by the end of this series, she is, well, still a mess, but just better at it. Fright’s inquiry of “what kind?” to Jerri’s question about killing monsters is absolutely on point and perfect gallows humor.
In her big fight with “the Billy,” we see Jerri at her absolute best; confident, improvisational, and focused. The reveal of her having taken gymnastics feels a bit sudden, but it isn’t outside of the realm of possibility. The most important thing is that in this moment she finds clarity that ultimately helps her to move forward. Her going to A. A. is one of those nice dualities of character development; monster hunting and A. A. at first blush don’t seem like they have correlation, but it’s more about her own personal journey and bonding with her brother. It’s all very sweet.
As far as the ending, we get progression. Jerri has something steady in the hosting, she has mostly made up with her brother, and things seem to be on the right track for her. That is until a figure from her past shows up at an A. A. meeting and a mysterious figure in New York opens up a letter with two scrawled words: “Count Crowley.”
The ending works, but in the sense that it is not quite a resolution to a complete story. It’s just a stopping point, a chapter’s end. On the one hand, I could use a break from ongoings, but on the other, who am I to complain about getting more of something that I like?
Week to week, the art of Count Crowley has been a pleasure to look at. I’ve commented at length on some of the classic horror comics the series sometimes evokes, but one area I’ve not really mentioned is the certain cinematic quality to the pages.
Dastmalchian’s background as an actor definitely has a hand in this. Staging comics is different in many ways to staging shots in the film, but there are some universalities. Knowing film allows a writer to lean in and apply some of those techniques to the visualization process. One, for example, is the copious use of the establishing shots used throughout the four issues to create what feels like very real spaces where action can play out in. I am not sure if it is strictly Ketner who is thumbnailing the pages, or it is a more collaborative process between Ketner and Dastmalchian, but however it is done, it absolutely works.
The comic also has a strong and consistent visual pacing. For the most part, the paneling is fairly standard across the book, but there are some moments where there is a lot of energy simply through breaking margins and straying from geometric boundaries. It gives the series a real sense of energy just when needed. Certain moments require a rigidity that others do not and it is a good sign to see a comic handle those panels so well.
Basically, Jerri does end up in a different place and some would argue not necessarily better, but there is still some satisfaction in the journey. It doesn’t quite feel like a self-contained story though, merely the first chapter of something larger. I enjoyed the ride, but I expected something a little more self-contained.(4.5 / 5)
The comic is good, damn good. But it also feels like a pitch for a television series as well. Most comics these days are usually keen on developing an IP for adaptation so I have no issue with that. It’s a smart move, especially if the comic itself is a lot of fun.
Who knows what the future may bring?
Overall, Count Crowley was a treat and I am waiting for the inevitable follow-up. Feel free to check out our other comic coverage as well.