“Fillmore Press was once Madder Red, a homicidal maniac and criminal overlord who ruled the city of Bedlam. Now he's been cured of his mania, and says he wants to help protect the place he once terrorized -- but can he be trusted?”
Bedlam has a gruesome, confusing, messed up beginning. It doesn't shy away from gore and murder and sets the scene as well as any thrilling novel. What the hell is happening in this city?
Our main character, Fillmore Press, is quite unwell - that much is clear from the outset. Supposedly, he's been cured and is now no longer the terrifying killer, Madder Red, and instead wants to help the people he once tortured. Whether or not he can be trusted is unclear, but what is clear to the reader is that his day to day life is still a struggle. There are numerous flashbacks that give the impression he's still hanging onto his alter ego, as well as doing the job of setting things up nicely for us.
There are a few styles throughout this volume, all in-keeping and coherent, but still different. The main style I'm not a big fan of, as it's very sketchy and there are many lines, making it a bit too messy for my taste. Other panels are stark with few lines, details, and colours, and these enjoyed more. Still others are highly detailed and more realistic looking, but these were more for full pages and issue covers. The three worked together well to tell the story and convey the shifting emotions and tones throughout the story, and it's not something I've come across too often.
Red is a key colour and in many scenes it's the only one used, highlighting Madder Red as vicious, dangerous, deadly. The sudden pops in otherwise grey panels draw the eye and depict significant characters, also making things feel a lot more sinister. Not that that's difficult - this comic is already incredibly dark.
The story can be tricky to follow at times, as it jumps from place to place and person to person, but it seems fitting. This is a very psychologically driven comic and if it made perfect sense it wouldn't be as hard hitting and gripping. There isn't much that can be said about this confusing tale without ruining, so I suggest giving it a go for yourself.
But only if you can handle it.