Bella enlists the help of Lucy Chaplin to defeat a trio of human/non-human women. But will Lucy and Bella be enough? Drew Edwards writes characters that are not only essential to this point in comic history but also empower readers. Andrea Montano holds Edwards' pace with excellent art. This is a story arc you won't want to miss!
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Lucy Chaplin never gets a break. Balancing between her personal life as a model and scientist with her boyfriend’s life as a superhero can be challenging. HELL HOLE! PART 1 is no exception to this woman’s busy life. Writer Drew Edwards, artist Andrea Montano, and colorist April Guadiana team up to give us the start to an arc that is sure to keep you guessing! All this is wrapped up together with a cover by Evan Quiring. This sponsored review will look at the majesty that is Lucy Chaplin.

Bella has stepped into town, chasing some drug dealers that the cartel hired her to take out. However, she ended up biting off more than she can chew. With the help of Lucy, will Bella be able to solve the mystery of Hell Hole, Texas?

Hell Hole! Part 1
Image courtesy of Sugar Skull Media

Welcome to Hell Hole, Texas!

Bella finds herself seated at a bar just outside of Hell Hole. She’s searching for a trio of women who call themselves Cerberus. She coaxes the bartender into giving her at least a direction to start searching. However, luckily (or unluckily) for Bella, the women walk through the bar as the bartender starts giving her directions. Bella is clearly outnumbered and outmatched by the three women, who reveal themselves to be more than human. But there is definitely something odd about these women.

Bella manages to escape by the hair on her head. Beaten bloody, she stumbles into Lucy’s science bunker miles away. Bella knows she can’t beat Cerberus on her own, so she came to find Solomon to help. However, Solomon is out taking care of business. Her only help will be from Lucy, although Lucy is reluctant to get her hands tied into this. Lucy is not normally into the business of hero-for-hire. However, whatever odd thing Cerberus is doing, it has to be stopped.

The pair is up against the odds in this arc. There are a lot of reasons these two women won’t be able to make it. But Cerberus has a weakness. This is a weakness that can be exploited in full if Lucy and Bella are lucky (and clever) enough.

Hell Hole! Part 1 Lucy Chaplin
Image courtesy of Sugar Skull Media

Lucy, Bella, and the Cerberus

Edwards does a phenomenal job with HELL HOLE PART 1. Although previously I have not run into Bella, her character is fully articulated and formed. There’s also something to be said about a male writer who has a knack for writing women as people rather than props.

Bella and Lucy are characters that we wish we could be friends with. Both women are dynamic and empowering; they never let other people’s perceptions bring them down. Lucy’s professions on their own are phenomenal, but watching her work is probably the best thing ever. When Bella first walks into Lucy’s science bunker, Lucy is soldering the final touches on her Project Titan. Although we have no idea currently what this project is for, it’s always great to see our female leads working on projects that are not generally depicted. With the release of the black hole images, courtesy of Katie Bouman and her team, depicting women in science roles is fundamental.

It’s also important to note the diversity of the characters. Bella is a transgender punk rock assassin-for-hire. I mean, is there a title that is more badass than a punk rock assassin-for-hire? And although the women of Cerberus are the HELL HOLE PART 1’s baddies, they are dope as hell. The group is a diverse mix of women from different backgrounds. Additionally, our introduction to them is a cross between CHARLIE’S ANGELS and Hell’s Angels. We see them rolling up on motorcycles with dust flying everywhere. It’s a powerful and empowering moment to see.

Lucy Chaplin: Hell Hole!
Image courtesy of Sugar Skull Media

Dynamic Story Matched by Dynamic Art

Andrea Montano’s art and April Guadiana’s coloring are, hands down, some of the best art of the series thus far. The colors are vibrant and each image packs a punch. Montano and Guadiana utilizes some of the moments Edwards sets up and exemplifies them to the umpteenth degree.

Some of my favorite scenes require delicate color transitions in order to show a shift between human and non-human entities, and this issue contains quite a few scenes like that. Guadiana is careful when illustrating these and it shows. The shifts of Cerberus from human to non-human is not only impactful, it’s also disturbing. It was absolutely delightful. I shouldn’t be comfortable with these women changing, I should be hella alarmed. And I 100% was. There’s also a shift with Bella, who can change colors from a human skin tone to a vibrant purple. These shifts are not easy, but Montano hits the nail on the head.

I also noticed — and maybe it’s just me looking too hard — these women never take victim poses. Montano ensures that each women is portrayed as powerful as she seems. Even beaten and bloody, Bella manages to move as if she was the most powerful being in the comic. Although a small touch, this has a strong impact on how we perceive these characters. We never see them as victims nor as defenseless. These women are going to fight with everything they’ve got. And I’m here for it.

Lucy Chaplin
Image courtesy of Sugar Skull Media

Final Thoughts on HELL HOLE PART 1

This arc is shaping up to be one of my favorite HALLOWEEN MAN/LUCY CHAPLIN arcs I’ve seen. The women take the center stage and are never shown as fearful or powerless. It’s something that is not easy to achieve. However, Drew Edwards, Andrea Montano, and April Guadiana manage to capture this strength and resilience. In a society where our government is trying to force women to be subservient and docile, it’s refreshing and heartwarming to see not all women are going take it. Instead of doing as they’re told, they’re going to kick your ass with a smile. I respect the hell out of that.

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