The Curse of Brimstone #1

Story by Phillip Tan and Justin Jordan
Art by Phillip Tan, Rain Beredo, and Wes Abott

Straight out of DC’s Age of Heroes, DC brings us the story of Brimstone, aka Joe Chamberlain, who I believe is supposed to be DC’s answer to Ghost Rider. I’m not sure if this a new spin on the character Brimstone introduced in the 80s, or if this a completely new character. 80s Brimstone was a minion of Darkseid, however the new Brimstone is a minion of the Devil himself.

The story opens with a splash page of Brimstone, where he makes the bold statement that everything ends the same: it always burns. We are immediately thrown into a flashback to earlier that day. We are introduced to Joe Chamberlain, a down on his luck loser who is a victim of his circumstances and stuck in his hometown of York Hills. Add to that a sister who is struggling, but she is pursuing a nursing degree so that is her ticket out of town. Finally we find out that Joe and his sister help support their disabled father. You know, this kind of hard luck story that we have all heard before.

Later on in the story we find out that Joe has been arrested at least six times, which really solidified the fact for me, that he isn’t so much a victim of circumstance, but a victim of his own actions. It turns him into a character who I empathized with, to someone who I just saw was complaining about the world and how it was out to get him.

Also we are somehow supposed to believe that Joe loves York Hills, and his only desire is to bring it back to its former state. Yet this sentiment is hollow as, every few panels, we see Joe talking about terrible the town is, how living there is destroying his life, and expressing joy for his sister being able to get out of York Hills and create a life for herself.

After an argument with his dad, Joe storms off for a drive, only for his truck to break down, where he meets the devil disguised as a fellow driver, and the devil offers him a ride. They engage in conversation about York Hills, and the devil offers him the ability to return Joe’s town to prominence, which Joe readily accepts the deal. Once the deal is struck, Joe is transformed into the fiery creature, Brimstone. But his transformation appears to have engulfed part of York Hills in flames, and this is where the issue ends.

The art by Tan does a good job of complementing the grim and grittiness necessary for the characters and the town. I wasn’t impressed with the writing as I have seen better from Justin Jordan. There are two really groan worthy lines in the issue: a police officer tells the waitress not to talk to him before he’s had his coffee because he can’t function, and the other where one of the devil’s minions freezes a cop and says ‘I do find your play time rather chilling’.

If you are interested in this story, I would recommend skipping this issue, as nothing really happens. We are left knowing nothing about Brimstone’s powers or what the deal with the devil entails. I don’t find Joe a particularly compelling character, but I am intrigued enough to check out issue 2 just to see if we find out what his powers are.

4 out of 10 stars.