THE SHOWDOWN vol. 2 by Russ Lippitt and Ezequiel Pineda
THE SHOWDOWN vol. 2 shows the race that was expertly set up in the previous graphic novel. The characters and landscape of Hell come to life thanks to artist Ezequiel Pineda. It's one Hell of a time!
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A Hellish Race!
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It’s been two years since THE SHOWDOWN introduced readers to its beautifully sick and twisted underworld full of various creatures all competing in the race. Satan himself is holding the race, and the winner will get to walk the Earth once again. The losers, however, are permanently erased from existence. While volume 1 did a superb job of introducing all the characters and setting up their motivations, THE SHOWDOWN vol. 2 provides the actual race. Successfully kickstartered this month, backers of the comic will receive their copy in November. For more information, check out the Kickstarter page. Written by Russ Lippitt and drawn by artist Ezequiel Pineda, this graphic novel takes full advantage of its setting and characters. Let’s get ready to raise some Hell!

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The Story behind THE SHOWDOWN vol. 2

The race of the millennium has begun, and the creatures of Hell are off. The entire graphic novel follows a dozen different teams competing against one another. Typically, with all these characters, it’s easy for a story to become a jumbled mess. However, writer Russ Lippitt cleverly broke the graphic novel into the nine circles of Hell. So instead of seeing all the characters at once, the reader only sees certain characters in various levels of Hell. A team is based on the group the individual racer falls under. For instance, the werewolves will be in the fifth circle while goth heretics are in the sixth circle. THE SHOWDOWN vol. 2 displays these levels with clever background gags — I implore readers to stop and admire Ezequiel Pineda’s work. I guarantee you’ll get a laugh from the ingenious references to the dead and living.

The only bit of confusion that comes with this method of storytelling is that the circles of Hell are supposed to signify the closer the reader was to the end of the race. In THE SHOWDOWN VOL. 1, all the racers began at the same point, so how exactly did they all end up in different circles of Hell at the start of volume 2? Perhaps certain characters speed up ahead between the first two volumes? Either way, it hardly matters. The story and artwork are so enjoyable that I can overlook this minor issue.

Photo Courtesy of Left Brain Writings.

Range of Characters

The characters range from classic horror creatures, like werewolves and demonic clowns, to skinheads and Nazi propagandists. Each character has their own unique backstories and personality traits. For example, one of the Deadbelles is in a relationship with a rival team, so she is concerned for her beau despite competing against him. Since there is a huge selection of characters, readers will more likely be able to find a group they will root for to win. Furthermore, Lippitt and Pineda took the time to make sure that even characters within the same group looked different. For example, the werewolves range from a huge monstrous man-wolf to a werewolf who resembles one that you’d see on TEEN WOLF. On that note, there is an amusing scene involving one of the werewolves and the ridiculousness of censorship in comic books.

Hilarious Jab at Comic Censorship

I love the fact that on one page, a character rips the vein off another character to use for the radiator, then  immediately following this, there is a werewolf peeing, his private parts blocked out because of the Comic Code Authority (CCA). The CCA regulates the content published by comic book publishers. Companies like DC and Marvel have abandoned the CCA, but smaller comic book publishing companies still adhere to it. I don’t know if this was writer Russ Lippitt’s intention, but it effectively showed the absurdity of the CCA. Sure, have a character viciously rip a vein out of another’s arm is fine, but heaven forbid someone sees a penis! Artist Ezequiel Pineda did not sugarcoat this either; he drew the vein getting ripped off in excruciating detail.

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The Art of Hell

Speaking of the artwork, Pineda is masterful throughout all of THE SHOWDOWN vol. 2. From the backgrounds to the character designs, every aspect of this graphic novel is devilishly mesmerizing. Being Hell, the majority of the background colors are dark gray, red, or black. This creates a good contrast to the brightly colored characters of the comic, making them stand out more. Not to mention the positioning of the vehicles makes it appear as though the characters are driving right out of the comic! This makes for some eye-popping and violent action sequences, which is abundant throughout this story.

If there were any drawbacks with the artwork, it would be facial expressions of some of the characters. There were moments when the characters would make facial expressions that did not quite resemble how their faces looked at rest. I understand that character faces can change depending on their emotion, but they still should look like themselves. When some characters changed their facial expressions, they looked like different people. This is a very minor nitpick, and it rarely happened, so it’s barely noticeable.

Photo Courtesy of Left Brain Writings.

Final Thoughts on THE SHOWDOWN vol. 2

It’s rare to come across a fantastic and creative story that grips you from the beginning. It’s even rarer to have a follow-up not only live up to its predecessor but also surpass it. THE SHOWDOWN vol. 2 features everything you loved about the first volume but with even more violence, comedy, and even some heartbreak. That’s right, Russ Lippitt wrote a story about creatures from Hell and actually made the reader care for some of them. Don’t get me wrong, every character is contemptible in their own way; however, it’s their comradery that makes these hellish monsters relatable and engaging. Overall, THE SHOWDOWN vol. 2 is definitely worth your time if you’re into monsters and have one seriously messed up sense of humor!

Learn more about THE SHOWDOWN vol. 2’s Kickstarter, click here

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