Malefic, issues 1 through 4, locks you up with a series of twisted characters that probe into the deep dark recesses of your mind as you ask yourself “should I be enjoying this?” To which I answer, “Yes, yes you should” (That is, if you enjoy such things).
The best way I can describe Malefic is to imagine being locked in an R-Rated Arkham Asylum where the inmates are more than just thugs with a gimmick. These are twisted depraved individuals, some moreso than others, some with special powers, all of which have earned their keep in this off-the-books prison for the extremely deranged and dangerous.
The series follows Dr. Evelyn Freust, disgraced psychologist turned parapsychologist, as she is recruited into running the Asylum known as “The Pit” her estranged father once ran before his untimely death. Malefic #1 gives a great introduction into what the series is, as well as who our protagonist is, and sets the tone right off the bat for the rest of the series.
In addition to a host of inmates to treat, Dr. Freust’s father left behind a few cool homemade toys for her to use in her attempts to treat them, and his trusted go-to The Nurse to help guide her. Throughout this issue we learn of Dr. Freust’s fall from grace in the psychiatric field due to a tryst with a former patient that also left her crippled for life. We come to understand the Doctor who just wants to do good, though she has a few demons of her own to contend with.
Evelyn falls a bit into the “dark hero” trope, but it makes for a better character and more interesting read. She feels like she may be the perfect fit in the hell hole that is The Pit. The inmates make for a great Rogue’s Gallery, with inmate 11 being Evelyn’s equivalent of The Joker… if the Joker had the ability to completely screw with your mind from the inside out. But we don’t really get to see the extent of these manipulations until you get into the subsequent issues.
Malefic Issue 2 introduces us to more of The Pit’s inmates like Inmate 81 who is a deadly telekinetic with a mean temper, and Inmate 30 a man with an identity crisis and insatiable violent lust. We see more of the former Dr. Freust’s unorthodox treatments and the new Doctor’s own take on helping; trying things her father never thought of much to the behest of The Nurse in most cases. Inmate 11 continues her mind games.
The series continues along these lines throughout the four issues I’ve read so far. A continual introduction to new inmates and follow ups with old ones, all while Inmate 11 proceeds to screw with the good doctor. While that may sound formulaic, the characters and treatment are usually so engaging you want to keep reading just to see what happens next.
Dan Schaffer and David Miller have put together an engaging series that tackles some dark subjects with a bit of wry wit and aloofness while providing interesting character development. Malefic is not for the feint of heart or easily offended. It is graphic, intense, sexual, deviant and violent. It also makes for a damn good read for those looking for something different from the standard fare superhero comics. I for one am looking forward to the trade paperback of the collected eight issue run on June 13th from Devil’s Due/1First Comics. If the last four issues are as good as the first, I will be in for one hell of a ride.
Want more indie comics with an edge? Check out Kaiser’s Review of The Drude Vol.1