Thank you to author Ben Ruffett for providing me with a copy of Siege Town in exchange for this honest review.
Siege Town is a short standalone graphic novel that takes place in small town Russia. Two Americans are going through the town for reasons not fully known to the reader and end up staying at a highly suspicious inn when there are no other housing options for the night.
The inn’s owner, seemingly the sole occupant, is alarming and off putting. He looks exactly like what you would think a mad scientist would look like, sans pants. Yes he wears no pants or underwear under his “probably dissects humans just for fun” apron. A startling but effective image.
This malevolent character is the target of a violent siege from the townsfolk, hence Siege Town. His atrocities are revealed somewhat but a lot of the dialogue between the non American characters is written in Russian. I don’t speak or read Russian. I appreciate that these characters would be speaking in their own native tongue but it did leave me feeling like I missed half of the story.
The story itself is less than half of a story. The whole comic book feels like a single scene from a much larger book. We are left in the dark on many details and are given no time to care about any of the characters to really care what happens to any of them.
The Americans, who are of course armed, begin to defend the inn because they’re afraid they’ll be killed if they step outside. This may be true. They could have also probably just laid low until they took the evil bad guy. We’ll never know. They start shooting back and make themselves enemies as well.
It’s hard for me to sympathize with these characters. Are they just travelers? Military rebels? I have no idea. All I know is that they behave in a way that I most certainly would not. Since I don’t know their motives I don’t have a reason to care if they live or die which makes the ending fall pretty flat.
The cover of the book led me to believe that this would be a commentary on communism. Perhaps that aspect was lost in the Russian dialogue, perhaps it was just a misrepresentation. If you are part of the narrow audience of bilingual English/Russian comic book readers please let me know your takes on this one.
The art in Siege Town is good and manages the violence well. Since the words don’t do much to help it is nice to be able to rely on the story telling within the pictures to carry the graphic novel along.
Overall, it took maybe 15 minutes to plow through this one. There isn’t enough substance to sit with it any longer. I’m always on the lookout for independent comic books to recommend, unfortunately, I am not the audience for this one.
2/5 mad scientists 👨🏼🔬👨🏼🔬
The Americans were not armed upon entering the inn. They were provided weapons by the innkeeper. They do appear to have prior experience with firearms though.
The back cover pictures a man wielding a sickle.
The Russian dialogue would create a communication barrier for American travelers who presumably do not speak Russian despite being there, outside of a major city. Once again, I do not know who these characters are or why they are in a dangerous area of rural Russia. However, the Americans have barricaded themselves in the Inn and are not having a conversation with the Russians so the miscommunications between them don’t really occur. They blindly trust the pants-less innkeeper instead of attempting any sort of conflict management (or just hiding and not being a part of the conflict) outside of arming themselves.
I did not actually monitor how long it took to read this book. 15 minutes is more of a feeling than a literal time. The book felt like it moved fast and I believe it did.