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Review: Oxymoron: The Loveliest Nightmare

stk693188The serial killer Oxymoron takes center stage in ComixTribe’s Oxymoron: The Loveliest Nightmare, and it’s right where he wants to be. Writers Tyler James and John Lees pull no punches with the story, and Alex Cormack’s art makes the reader feel the weight of Oxymoron’s gruesome actions. Oxymoron: The Loveliest Nightmare collects issues #1-4 of the comic of the same name.

Though Oxymoron was first a character in James’ The Red Ten, this story stands well on its own and doesn’t force the reader to work too hard to figure out the villain. Oxymoron’s character has all the showiness and brutal tendencies of Heath Ledger’s Joker, but with more restraint and a hard R rating. This particular arc doesn’t delve into Oxymoron’s past and decidedly focuses on the events at hand, though a little more insight to the character would certainly be interesting. However, the plot survives well without it, and consequently isn’t bogged down by backstory. 

The first pages of this arc introduce Mary Clark, a Swanstown police with a shot of her lying on the ground next to a man who has been shot in the head. The story immediately jumps ahead six months to Mary’s return to the force, but doesn’t get any less brutal in the coming chapters. Readers only get glimpses of Mary outside of her life at the S.P.D., and part of the fun and suspense of the comic is trying to figure out not only Oxymoron’s next move, but Mary’s, as well.

The Loveliest Nightmare has all the blood and guts of a slasher and all the slow reveal of a good psychological horror story. The pacing plays up the psychological aspect, and the tension doesn’t slow its build until the climax, resulting in a story that leaves the reader guessing until the very last panel. It might be beneficial to read with a stress ball in hand.

There are two elements to this comic that really distance The Loveliest Nightmare from nearing the realm of “Joker copycat.” Firstly, Oxymoron recognizes and often states that he is a terrible person doing terrible things. While this is glaringly obvious to Mary, the people he has murdered, and hopefully the reader, it serves as a built-in criticism of this type of character that isn’t always present in other stories. Secondly, the story prioritizes ordinary people as the heroes. James and Lees make an effort to include different types of characters who don’t normally see much narrative space in Mary and Deborah (a disabled woman of color and a lesbian, respectively).

Cormack does a great job of bringing every vicious detail of the story into reality. Oxymoron himself is creepy and sinister, with a terrifying and omnipresent grin that may take clown phobias to a new level. Cormack’s dynamic illustrations will haunt readers indefinitely–or at least until the comic returns with a new and equally twisted arc.

Story: Tyler James and John Lees Art: Alex Cormack
Story: 9.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Read 

ComixTribe provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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