In The Devil’s Red Bride #4, Ketsuko’s day of vengeance against Clan Kamimura is at hand. But will vengeance still the voice inside her head that urges her to greater and greater acts of violence? Or will Ketsuko finally give in to the Red Bride’s lust for death? Find out in your next mighty Major Spoilers reviews!
THE DEVIL’S RED BRIDE #4
Writer: Sebastian Girner
Artist: John Bivens
Colorist: Iris Monahan
Letterer: Jeff Powell
Publisher: Vault Comics
Release Date: January 13th, 2021
Previously in The Devil’s Red Bride: Ketsuko’s brother is the leader of their clan, but is an ineffectual warrior and leader. In his place, Ketsuko, as The Devil’s Red Bride, leads his forces into battle to claim vengeance against Clan Kamimura, who killed her father and led her clan to the brink of ruin. Now, at the hour of her final victory, will Ketsuko find the peace she craves?
DROWNING IN BLOOD
The Devil’s Red Bride #4 is the penultimate issue in this fine, if bloodthirsty series. Ketsuko has hidden her true nature, that of a vengeance filled fighter seeking to redeem her clan after the death of its lord, and her father, at the hands of Clan Kamimura. Through numerous travails, she has led her people to the brink of victory. All along the way, though, readers have been given a glimpse of…something, that has been lurking in the background, rendering advice, and strengthening her arm. Now, the price must be paid.
What a great issue! A twisting plot, featuring a pivotal flashback and a jaw dropping twist at the end, demonstrates how to tell a compelling story. The Devil’s Red Bride #4 has moments of real surprise, such as the moment Ketsuko finds out what her brother intends for her, that show that this isn’t just a series about violence and death, but also subtle political intrigue. Writer Sebastian Girner has again demonstrated that the true strength of this series is not necessarily in the acts of violence, but how the search for vengeance is an empty, hollow pursuit, that leaves the seeker as damaged as those they wish to kill.
Ketsuko is a compelling character – a woman in a world made for men, yet who is a more capable warrior than anyone she has encountered. Her arm may be strengthened by a supernatural presence, but her thirst to avenge her father is all her own. On the one hand, her quest is understandable. Her world collapsed with the death of her father. What loving child wouldn’t want to do something to ease that pain? But in a world where laws mean almost nothing, the only way to achieve that aim is to kill anyone standing in her way. Her willingness to take up a sword and carve a bloody swathe towards the breathing heart of Clan Kamimura makes her as culpable for all that follows as those who killed her father. I think Ketsuko understands this, as at the end of The Devil’s Red Bride #4 she is confronted with a truth that knocks her off her path.
THE BITTER CUP OF VICTORY
There’s a large cast of characters in The Devil’s Red Bride #4, but artist John Bivens does a great job of individualising them. Ketsuko’s transformation from burdened teenage daughter to enraged sword wielding hellion is truly startling, as are the scenes of mass combat. Time and again, Bivens does an excellent job of conveying the bewildering chaos that descends on a battlefield filled with men contending hand to hand. It is claustrophobic and terrifying, a glimpse, if you will, into a Hell of man’s own making.
There are two key scenes near the end of The Devil’s Red Bride #4 that demonstrate Biven’s talent; after Ketsuko has carved a path through the Kamimura retainers (leaving behind a literal trail of blood and bodies) and when Lord Sanjumon, who had ostensibly been helping Ketsuko, finally unveils his true nature. The bloody battle that follows shows Bevin’s mastery of the page, and also demonstrates Ketsuko’s willingness to fight through to the bitter end.
BOTTOM LINE: SUBTLE
The Devil’s Red Bride #4 leaves the reader on an extraordinary cliffhanger, demonstrating the power of art and the written word to shock. Along the way, Sebastian Girner does what every writer should do – reveal character at key moments, answer one question and then ask another, and lead the reader to a denouement that leaves them hungry for the next issue.
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The Devil's Red Bride #4
Fine writing and fine art come together in The Devil's Red Bride #4 to create an early contender for best single issue of 2021. Vengeance may seem to be a worthwhile pursuit when you have nothing else in your life, but even when it is in the cup of your hand, would you be willing to take that final step and pay the price of victory?