Review: ‘Let’s Play God’ #1

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Let’s Play God #1 is a stylish murder mystery laden with red herrings, possible suspects, and tons of deep-buried secrets. Readers will dive into an urban world filled with rapid-fire dialogue and punk rock music. This is a clever whodunit that makes it interesting to guess who the killer behind the mask is.

WRITTEN BY: Brea and Zane Grant
ART BY: Eric J
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASE: October 24th, 2012

The punk band Doomed Earth has just finished practicing their latest song. After an exhaustive and sweaty rehearsal, the lead guitarist accidentally sees something she shouldn’t have. Across from her rooftop, she helplessly watches an innocent man murdered right before her eyes. Though she can’t tell who is hiding behind the mask, the killer recognizes her face. Each member of the band is now a potential target for the knife-wielding maniac.

With such snarky and witty lines , Brea and Zane Grant have the dialogue down pat in the exchanges between the band members. Right from their introduction, this trio of protagonists feels fleshed out because of their distinct personalities. Feeling like a third wheel, Kira, the drummer, wants the others to pay more attention to her, but is afraid to voice her concerns. Mel is the tough one of the group, who acts more of a leader. Billy looks like she is having the time of her life playing in the band, but she has built a protective wall around herself, keeping even those closest at a careful distance. They are all struggling to make ends meet, but playing music is the main reason what’s keeping them together.

The Grants stage certain clues around the anonymity of the masked killer. Though readers never see the killer’s real face, the psychotic madman could possibly be someone who personally knows the band members, and has been watching them from afar. In the opening pages, everything the killer writes down in the journal has a poetic and rhythmic beat, as if they were lyrics. Could the psychopath be an avid listener of the band’s music? Or, is the masked killer and the obsessed fan two different people in this twisted mystery? There are many ways the Grants could play around with this mystery, which makes their concept even more promising.

In a refreshing change of environment from the grungy Seattle scene, Eric J’s artwork focuses on the punk music scene of Portland, Oregon, depicting the middle-class neighborhoods the band lives in. The band’s rehearsal space is such a dump, as if they don’t have enough money to pay the electric bills. In their character designs, Mel and the others are covered in tattoos and nose piercings. Even with the torn and worn-out clothing they wear, readers can tell each band member has a day job while playing music at night. In a nice little detail, which you might not pick up at first glance, J uses a blurring effect when Mel is playing her guitar and Kira strikes her crash cymbals.

When you finish reading, what stands out the most is the raw intensity of the vicious murder scene. J takes visual cues from Giallo films, such as Deep Red, to heighten the suspense and gore. With the Giallo films as references, J only shows the black glove of the masked killer in the opening pages. As the killing takes place, all the panel layouts are from Mel’s point-of-view as she witnesses the victim being slashed and gutted.

With the premise established, “Let’s Play God #1″ has the potential to be a memorable whodunit mystery. Readers will surely be coming back for more after reaching the gripping cliff-hanger. With such an emphasis on sex, violence, and punk music, it is hard to not get hooked on “Let’s Play God.”

Rating: 4/5 skulls

Reviewed by Jorge Solis