Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Comics Review: "SINS OF THE SALTON SEA #5" Finale is Scary, Heartbreaking and Beautiful


STORY: Ed Brisson
ART: C.P. Smith
COLORS: C.P. Smith
LETTERS: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
COVER: Tim Bradstreet
VARIANT COVER ARTISTS: Dave Johnson; Chris Ferguson
32pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (October 2023)

Rated: “Mature”

Sins of the Salton Sea is a five-issue comic book miniseries from writer Ed Brisson and artist C.P. Smith.  Published by AWA Studios, the series focuses on a professional thief who finds himself protecting lives rather than collecting the money he was promised.  Letterers Steven Wands and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou complete the series creative team.

Sins of the Salton Sea introduces Wyatt, a professional thief living off the grid.  His brother, Jasper, convinces him to join his crew for one of those proverbial “last big scores.”  What Walt scores is one human sacrifice and a war among factions of a doomsday cult.

Sins of the Salton Sea #5 opens in Star Valley, Arizona.  With his brother, Jasper, dying of a gunshot wound, Wyatt heads to the Salton Sea for a final showdown with the Sons of the Salton Sea doomsday cult and their leader, Cecil Currier.  Meanwhile, in Centennial, Arizona, one of Cecil's lackeys has possession of Cecil's son, Silver, and they are both headed to the Salton Sea.

As Cecil and the Sons of the Salton Sea prepare to sacrifice Silver to the tentacled creature that lurks in the Salton Sea, Wyatt rushes to the rescue.  Is Wyatt, however, willing to be confronted with the truth?  With the world falling apart around him, will he maintain his conviction that Silver must be saved – no matter the cost?

THE LOWDOWN:  AWA Studios' marketing recently began providing me with PDF review copies of their comic book publications.  Sins of the Salton Sea #5 is a recent arrival.

Sins of the Salton Sea ends as I expected it to end.  This comic book series is similar in some aspects to Drew Goddard's The Cabin in the Woods (2011) and M. Night Shyamalan's recent film, Knock at the Cabin (2023), both of which involve an apocalyptic scenario.

What makes Sins of the Salton Sea different, even with its somewhat predictable ending, is that writer Ed Brisson focuses deeply onto and into the characters rather than on the supernatural and the apocalyptic.  He focuses on the actors and actions more so than on the endgame.  I can euphemistically refer to every character in this story as “crazy,” but clearly, all the main players and plenty of bit players have suffered so much tragedy and heartbreak that they seem to be experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Brisson cleverly plays judgmental and non-judgmental because (as I see it) he is depicting all his characters as zealots to their cause.  It's not so much about good and bad.

Artist-colorist C.P. Smith conveys all the layers and nuances in Brisson's script, but his best trick is the way he presents this story.  Smith's storytelling relentlessly tracks realistic to the extend that this series seems more like a modern Western or crime fiction.  Smith also always made me believe that everyone is righteous even if not everyone is right.  In the end, Smith springs Brisson's trap so that it blows up in our faces; the expected is still unexpected.  And letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou lays out the breadcrumbs as he has been doing over his run.

Some might think that Sins of the Salton Sea would make a great movie.  I think that it would make a great television (preferably on FX) or streaming series.  Brisson and Smith have delivered a plot, setting, and characters that deserve a couple of seasons of lightning and thunder.  Good actors can chew on these characters for years.  In the meantime, dear readers, if you don't buy the Sins of the Salton Sea trade paperback, there will be trouble coming for you from the Salton Sea.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of action thrillers and of cults and conspiracies will want to try Sins of the Salton Sea.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

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