Bedlam by author Nick Spencer, Illustrators Riley Rossmo, Frazier Irving, and Ryan Browne
We’ve seen this plot a thousand times. A former serial killer helps hunt down the current serial killer. Most famously this is the premise of Hannibal and all of his iterations. Also, Dexter, a TV show that is best if you stop about 45 seconds before the end of the last episode. (Good grief why are they rebooting it? Just stop!) Although it has become somewhat of a cliche there is an appeal to following a violent psychopath as he uses his knowledge for the side of good.
The graphic novel Bedlam’s killer hero is Madder Red, a terrorist so deranged that the series opens with him performing a mass shooting of children as a town square spectacle. Unfortunately this is not a rare occurance in America. He then fakes his death and the city sighs in relief that he won’t be a concern any longer.
He’s been living under the care of an unorthodox psychiatric professional who intends to fix the madman’s brain. This plan involves a lot of dead kittens, I said unorthodox after all. After the mass shooter is reformed he’s released back into the city, minus his Madder Red mask, to live as a sad, destitute, studio apartment dweller with no purpose.
He tries desperately to live life as a normal person without psychotic urges. This doctor, however, gave him no recources to become a productive member of society so he spends his days watching television. This is too realistic, people need help past treatment!
He sees on the news that there’s a new serial killer plaguing this city and he offers his services to the police detective in charge of the case. Detective Acevedo is reluctant but once he solves several cold cases she agrees to let him help.
There is also a “superhero” in this city who wants to handle everything himself. We don’t get to explore this side plot nearly enough throughout these two volumes. It would have been a fun connecting arc that would further blur the lines between the good guys and the bad.
Volumes 1 and 2 both feature a different killer and it could be assumed that Bedlam would become a serialized series had it not been cancelled. Volume 2 ends abruptly and it would appear there are no plans for further books.
This is unfortunate. I was quite enjoying this graphic novel. The characters are interesting, the killers are spectacularly drawn, and I wanted to see where it went. Alas, so it goes with comic books. I suppose it’s better to love the beginning of a series than never read it at all.
4/5 masks 🎭🎭🎭🎭
For another serial killer oriented graphic novel check out Hack / Slash
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