Fell by, Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith, is the perfect combination of a great police procedural and horror piece. It is also my go to police procedural comic. It follows the exploits of Detective Richard Fell, who has just been transferred to a city called Snowtown (basically it’s the city of Detroit mixed with Hell). He meets the fellow officers and citizens while becoming Snowtown’s new protector. But something isn’t right with Snowtown. A strange symbol covers the town –– even on people’s bodies, including Fell’s. The Faded shadows of the city are hiding something and Detective Fell soon can’t decide if he is saving the city or being swallowed by it.
Each issue follows the detective as he investigates a case or somehow gets put in a situation where he has to uphold the law in some way. Every issue is a nice little police procedural. Some involve strange mysteries, while others are psychological examinations of characters, such as an issue revolving around interrogating a shooter. Warren Ellis gets really creative with the situations Fell has to deal with. He solves some really fucked up cases that use excrement and anus’ in disturbingly creative ways. The one in done story makes each individual issue of Fell a fun but unsettling read.
There is an overarching plot built through the developing relationships between Fell and the inhabitants of Snowtown. He learns more of the city’s customs and history. The town itself, is very much a character. Snowtown feels like a living prison for the people inside of it. It has power over its citizens and most choose to embrace it. Fell may not be able to help Snowtown, because his true enemy could be the fallen city.
The character of Fell is great. He is the perfect image of a gruff detective with a heart of gold. He is smart, cynical, and tough enough to survive and adapt in his new environment. He gets a girlfriend who brands him with the mark of Snowtown on their first date. His police cohorts are interesting and darkly comedic (there are three and a half detectives in Snowtown. One has no legs). My personal favorite character is this short person who dresses as a nun, wears a Nixon mask, and pops up in each issue doing something illegal. This character is the Boba Fett of horny sadistic nuns. I really want to know more about this Nixon nun see a final confrontation between him/her/it and Detective Fell.
Warren Ellis’ writing brings out the great police procedural aspect, but Ben Templesmith’s art is what makes Fell so dark and supernatural. The faded backgrounds and colors mix well with the sharply drawn characters to better emphasize the haze Snowtown has over the citizens. Templesmith’s art works best when used for supernatural/surreal comics that take place in a single setting (that’s what made 30 Days of Night work). His art style makes Snowtown all the more twisted and menacing, and adds a lot to the world he and Ellis have created.
Fell is a dark, fun ride, and one that has not yet ended. Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith have yet to finish the series. I really hope they do, though it’s been a long time since a new issue has been released. It may be incomplete at the moment but every issue has something for someone. Just don’t eat while reading it, in case you read an issue involving injecting excrement into a small child.
Favorite Issue (so far): The issue involving a broken family and a daughter being injected with feces, is so strange and horrible –– but my god does it make a great mystery to be solved. Though I just spoiled it for those reading, it’s still fun anyway. Fun isn’t the right word, but it’s something for certain.
Written by Tyler Ducheneaux
Images by Ben Templesmith