A new year and a new issue of Postal Deliverance hits the shelves. Published by Top Cow, from Image Comics, the series features tough characters in difficult situations. Outside of the Law but bound by the Rules of their own making, the Postal cast are constantly in conflict but can they manage to keep everything together or have they reached breaking point?
All is not well in Eden. Mutilated bodies hang from the trees; forced cover ups in the administration offices; old leaders itching to return; a killer on the loose.
The reluctant Mayor, Mark, is no stranger to death or violence but his limits have been reached and now it is about balancing his official responsibilities with his personal life.
Previous story lines in Postal have had a range of themes, from Family to Justice. In this latest issue Bryan Hill focuses on fear and trust, and how they are intertwined. The killer stalking the town forces reactions from the central cast and some readers may find it surprising that the majority of this issue only features the four main protagonists.
The story is very procedural as it follows the investigation of a murder. The scenes play out in an order you would expect from a modern police show, switching from the crime scene to the coroner’s, to the investigation team. What makes it stand apart, and to a large degree much more comic book in it’s approach to storytelling, is that the conversations have more to do with the characters’ lives than they do a police investigation.
Large elements background story, emotional drama, and world building takes place during the back and forth between characters. As with previous issues, Hill is using one narrative to tell another. The murder, and the killer it relates to, are almost background noise to the real family drama unfolding in front of the readers. The relationship between mother and son is becoming more strained, just as the threat of violence is becoming more prevalent.
Hill clearly enjoys building complex character relationships. It’s surprising to think that the most exciting part of a comic like Postal is not the horrific body mutilation but bearing witness to the disintegration of a family. The anticipation of how certain characters will react to given circumstances fills this comic with tension and gripping drama.
Delivering the Art
The art in this series of Postal has been much stronger and more consistent than in some of the earlier issues. This is largely due to the precise inking by Raffaele Ienco. His attention to detail in the characters and, when required, the backgrounds gives the comic a realistic appearance, highlighting the tone of each scene. However, this is only a perceived realism as Ienco is as equally talented at creating abstract images and transitions from panel to panel or page to page.
The emotional beats of the story start with the script, flow through the lettering and are accentuated by Ienco’s layouts and compositions. A dramatic scene is brought to life by mixing medium and close up shots of the characters, giving the reader a full view of the interaction. Ienco then plays around with the backgrounds to give different emphasis to the foreground action. In one sequence, for example, the scene starts with a long shot showing two cast members confronting each other which is followed by a number of close ups, each with a differently colored background to illustrate the rage of one and the calm of the other.
The character placement works with the speech placement, provided by Troy Peteri, to lead the reader through the comic. Together they pause at the relevant spots and protract the emotional content of the script. The visuals leave the reader in no doubt about the theme of this issue and Hill’s powerful words hammer home the point. Fear and Trust are both powerful emotions and sometimes the strength of one can overshadow the other.
There is, without a doubt, a violent story unfolding within the pages of Postal Deliverance and this ongoing threat has fuelled the narrative from issue 1. However, this issue is a prime example of what really matters in Hill’s story: the relationships between the central four characters. If you pick this up expecting page after page of bloody violence then you’ve not been reading this series closely enough.
Family drama is the name of the game. It is intensely gripping and magnificently presented. This is a comic that could easily be misunderstood, especially from a description of a few words, but Postal Deliverance hasn’t wavered in it’s commitment to character or challenging artwork.