That Texas Blood #9 ADVANCE REVIEW: the tension builds as the cultists start to show

An "American Gothic" homage on the cover of #9

Written by: Chris Condon, Art, Colours, Letters by: Jacob Phillips.

"Eversaul, 1981, Part Three": Joe Bob is still discussing the 40 year old case with Ana the officer. He and the sheriff drive to where the Wellman estate was 40 years ago, based mostly on a hunch by private detective Eversaul. Without a warrant, they ask to search the house after asking Eversaul if he knew of the missing people. While searching, they notice that the house is abnormally clean...which makes them all a little suspicious, but still nothing to go after him on. Eversaul finds a chest that Wellman doesn’t want them to look through, so Eversaul pushes his buttons a little, trying to find a missing girl, Mary Elizabeth. Wellman calls her name and she appears. The sheriff is angry that they have wasted their time. As they leave, Eversaul notices she has the same tattoo that Wellman has; is there more to this case that the sheriff can’t see?

We are now three issues into this arc, and we are seeing the talent of both come out. Chris Condon is masterfully telling the tale that haunts Joe Bob, through his talks to the other officer over coffee. Their interactions are so incredibly realistic, that you feel like a fly on the wall in the small town. From the details given by Joe Bob, to the way Ana compliments what he says with little stories of her own, all this feels incredibly genuine.

The atmosphere of any book is down to art, but it also is influenced by the writing. That Texas Blood manages to deliver a detective thriller, potentially mixed with supernatural elements (which we haven’t seen much of since issue 1), with enhancement of the thriller aspect. Some of the best moments in this book are through conversation: intel gathered here, or evidence seen there. This all builds to a perfectly suspenseful book, that is well thought out and masterfully written, to keep us on edge.

One drawback to the series that I have, is that it’s so well written that I don’t want to stop after the 30 pages. I want to continue with the investigation through to the end. This makes me think that it would benefit from having a trade release, where the entire case (each story arc) is presented. Even pushing for an omnibus, where there could be multiple “cases” (arcs) in one “file” (book). I could even see this team working on something like Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips do, having a hardback series featuring a hardened detective as he goes through his cases. The only difference is that what we are presented with here is more of a limited series compared to the Brubaker and Phillips, which would be more like a film adaptation.

As I said, the atmosphere is helped by writing but the artwork is doing the heavy lifting. As per usual, the artwork is fantastic. With its subtle tones and darker colours, it’s building the tension of this cult mystery that has been haunting Joe Bob. With this issue we also get a lot of close up facial expressions that are so revealing, we can judge for ourselves if someone is lying or hiding something. By doing this, the reader is even more invested in the story.

Overall, this issue is just another great addition to the series. I cannot stress enough how good this book is. The only thing I find frustrating is that we are 9 issues in and yet still not seen much from the supernatural side that was referenced in issue 1. As I said, I also think that this series would benefit from a trade / omnibus release, so people didn’t have to remember the whole case after a few months. Other than that, this is an intelligent slow burn that is written for people who love a great detective story.

That Texas Blood #9 will be released from Image Comics on 25th August from your Local Comic Shop or digitally at Google Play.

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