The Green Woman
Written by Peter Straub & Michael Easton
Illustrated by John Bolton
Lettered by Todd Klein
Published by DC/Vertigo
Famed horror novelist Peter Straub makes his first foray into comics scripting in The Greem Woman, accompanied by writer and actor Michael Easton and acclaimed painter John Bolton. The story involves the serial killer Fielding “Fee” Bandolier from Straub’s 1993 Bram Stoker-winning novel The Throat on a new killing spree. Hunting him every step of the way is psychic detective Bob Steele.
The Green Woman throws around several interesting ideas. Unfortunately, few of them amount to very much – Bob Steele, named after a famed cowboy movie hero, struggles with the ideal of his name; planks from a cursed pirate ship make up parts of two buildings that play heavily into the book’s events; Fee flashes back to experiences in Vietnam while trying to control his compulsion to kill.
Because the book involves many fever dreams and considerable ambiguous imagery, many readers may bring something to this book that I simply can’t. I find it ambitious and challenging, but disjointed and ultimately unfulfilling. The reading narrative jumps clumsily from scene to scene with little clarity, while piling supernatural on top of procedural on top of noir. The ending’s curveball manages to be oddly satisfying, as if neither of these characters really mattered anyway; it’s all some cosmic force making everything all happen.
Regardless of the story, however, the visions experienced by both of the major characters create an effective excuse to show off John Bolton’s imagery, which is great. Like many painted comics, The Green Woman’s art possesses a stiffness and posed quality, but Bolton overcomes that drawback with vivid and startling illustrations. In fact, at times, the book’s confused plot seems as if it were sculpted to allow Bolton more opportunities to showcase his talent. Fortunately for readers, Bolton’s up to the task.
The Green Woman, ultimately, reads like a comic written by writers unfamiliar with comic book storytelling. Ideas are present, and scenes unfold, but the connections between sequences and the flow of the narrative fail to tie the individual sequences together effectively. The book looks great – John Bolton ensures that much, but there’s little else to recommend in this one.