Written by: Nathan Crazybear
Let’s talk about the guy living up your road. Every night he slips on a spandex suit, ties an American flag around his neck as though it were a cape, and paints his face before taking to the streets of your neighborhood to fight crime. He tangles with drug dealers, thieves, and even the teenagers loitering outside the gas station where a sign clearly reads, “NO LOITERING.” He claims that aliens endowed him with superpowers. He claims he helps people. Do we call him a hero? Or do we call him insane?
It’s this idea that Tim Seeley and Jim Terry’s Sundowners was inspired by. What state of mind does your average superhero bear? How crazy do real people have to be to don a costume and fight crime like the comic book characters we so love to read? While addressing this issue isn’t particularly new (for a great example see Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum which you can read about on our list of The Top 10 Graphic Novels of All Time), Seeley brings this idea to the forefront and creates a dark superhero comic filled with wit and horror.
With Jim Terry bringing a 1970’s horror comics vibe to the graphic novel’s artwork, the second volume of Seeley and Terry’s Sundowners follows a support group of superheroes to Detroit after fleeing Chicago following the events of the comic’s first volume. The group is led by Doctor Shrejic aka “Shreds.” Having diagnosed the members of the group with “sundown syndrome,” a disorder causing a compulsion to become someone else and fight crime, Shrejic is a narcissist whose intentions may be driven by something less than empathy for his patients. The group of heroes, whose super abilities may or may not exist, includes Arkanica, Concerned Citizen, Crowlita, and the Patient Wolf.
Each of Seeley’s characters is interesting, living in a world that’s psychological horror keeps the reader guessing in regard to our heroes’ sanity and what role the supernatural plays in the Sundowners reality. Sundowners can seem confusing as you read, each issue acting as a puzzle piece composing a larger picture to be seen in the end. It’s an enthralling read as every successive issue raises more questions than it answers until the reader eventually gains clarity upon finishing Seeley’s work.
NOTE: Volume 2 does indeed work as a standalone story and Volume 1 isn’t necessarily required reading, though I would recommend checking it out.
While the remarkable characters in Sundowners keep you questioning their sanity, the story adds to the puzzlement when the group encounters the dark underbelly of Detroit when a new drug arrives, a drug that hits like receiving “something you’ve always wanted.” The drug, “Gift” is being pushed by Mr. Christmas, a brilliantly creepy Santa Claus character, accompanied by his henchmen, two supervillains that may also suffer from “sundown syndrome.”
Sundowners is quality work from Dark Horse Comics. An exciting romp through the psyche of the superhero in realism, Tim Seeley and Jim Terry bring readers a smart series that can at times be laugh-out-loud funny all while carrying all the dark imagery that characterizes the horror genre.
So let’s talk about the guy living up the street. Wearing a pair of gardening gloves, a can of pepper spray attached to a utility belt he fashioned out of a piece of rope and six carabiners, he harbors a hatred for crime and injustice. Helping at the soup kitchen and assuring everyone there that, “evil can’t hide from his will,’ and that that includes the lizard people controlling our government. Is this man crazy? Or is there more to him than it seems? Pick up Sundowners Volume 2 and let’s start the conversation.
Order it here.