Retribution, punishment, and guilt haunt the pages in the second issue of Image/Top Cow’s Postal Deliverance. The consequences of actions taken in the first issue shape the violent events of this issue and the central characters are forced to reflect on what they have done.
After Effects of Going Postal
Last month Eric turned up in Eden full of fight and anger. He refused to be told what to do and stamped his dominance on the town with a bloodbath in the bar. When Mark and Maggie turn up, in their roles of Major and Sheriff respectively, they are forced with a confrontation neither of them want.
Meanwhile, Laura has found a new ‘son’ to raise but can she only teach him violence?
Bryan Hill splits the comic into two, each half documenting the psychology of Mark, even though he isn’t even in the second act. In the first act the reader is shown the two faces of Mark. The first is the public, Mayoral face; this is cold, calculated, and harsh when dealing with lawbreakers. In the very first issue of Postal, Laura’s punishment of criminals was a focal point and that moment is recalled in this issue. Marks treatment of Eric is brutal and, in some ways, more of a punishment than the public sacrifice adopted by Laura when she ruled the town.
The second face expresses Mark’s internal struggle with regret for what he has done and the weight of his responsibilities. Hill uses Mark’s internal monologue to give the reader an insight into the character and how he has matured over time.
Laura’s story is also filled with regret but in her case it is the regret of leaving and her inability to let go of her son. Hill compares and contrasts the mother and son’s lives to broaden their characters and link them through the violence that has surrounded them.
Postal Deliverance’s biggest asset is the realism brought to the story in large part due to Raffaele Ienco’s art work. His fine, detailed lines create highly complex characterisations. The emotional reactions of the character’s shine through each panel and page. Anger, hatred, respect and worry are all expressed through the cast’s acting. The drama is brought to each scene by the visuals and the detailed attention Ienco gives to the characters.
The coloring is very naturalistic until the portrayal of violent acts. Then the violence is heightened by the stark, single color backgrounds. Shades of yellow, turning to orange and finally to red depending on the extremity of the violence.
This approach allows Ienco to signal the disturbing moments and draw them out from the page. The impact of a baseball bat, for example, is accentuated by the simple, signifying color of the background. It focuses the reader’s attention on the act, allowing them to react in revulsion before the narrative moves on to the consequences. As a result, that single moment in time is extended, drawn out to uncomfortable lengths.
One visual element to look out for is the encroaching black shadows, creeping ever closer to the characters. They are like omens of doom surrounding and trapping the characters, sealing their fate. They are created using thick black, cross hatched lines that become denser as certain actions are played out; as if certain choices determine the future of the cast.
The lettering provided by Troy Peteri fits the tone of the comic. Postal Deliverance is a very dry, matter-of-fact, comic and the straight forward lettering reflects this. The speech balloons are fairly uniform which makes any change stand out more. This allows Troy Peteri to draw particular emphasis to a certain speech or panel without too much alteration to the lettering.
Postal has come a long way since its first issue in 2015 and this latest issue is one of the best so far in the series. A straightforward visual approach allows the writer and artists to subtly tweak an aspect of the narrative to create a greater impact. A small inserted panel, or slight wobble on a speech balloon stands out and draws the reader’s attention because it is so out of place in the otherwise organised page.
The plot is intriguing and the storytelling is effective. It may not be the easiest jumping on point for new readers but there is plenty for everyone to get their teeth into.