Review: Hard-boiled Revenge From Beyond In ‘Spirit Of The Law’ #1

The Monkeybrains Studio release through Comixology, “Spirit of the Law,” is the latest from “Witch Doctor” creator Brandon Seifert, featuring art by Michael Montenat. “Spirit of the Law” sees Sefiert going supernatural high concept again, but instead of a doctor tasked with curing the mystic ills of the world, it’s about gangsters rubbing out the wrong woman, and the vengeful spirit that pursues them.

The story, whose first issue debuted just in time for Halloween, has its writer testing his writing skills against noir–mingling his story of supernatural justice with gangsters, molls, and bosses. So does Seifert and artist succeed in bringing the two worlds together?

Well, the results are mixed, owing in part to the structure, which starts in flashback as our protagonist, mob button man Sammy and his partner Bugs find and execute a woman before burying her in her backyard. The first issue opens with our unnamed victim at gunpoint before looping around to her abduction, execution, and burial two pages later, tying up a flashback within the flashback. If you know the tropes of the genre, with Sammy as our no-nonsense narrator, we can imagine that by the end of the story, things will either work out for him, or they really, really won’t work out for him. It’s all solid storytelling, but that opening digression within what’s overall a flashback spends unnecessary time not building up the overall mystery (it’s a page, at most, but you can feel it in such a short story).

The visual of the shimmering, gown-clad spirit with a sword and blindfold is the most striking element of the book, a clear and evocative symbol of what the book is about. Who she is and how she got that way form the foundation of a mystery that feels in part like a revisiting of Dark Horse’s “Ghost” with an E.C. Comics twist. “Hellraiser” artist Monteant, with the help of colorist Ron Riley carve her out in space as a solid white object against the shadowy backgrounds and heavy, black-lined characters, setting up an interesting visual contrast. And while the artist’s acting can occasionally come off as stiff, he does quick shock horror violence well, showing our dwindling list of characters coming to gruesome ends.

I’m curious about where Seifert will go with his mystery woman. Whether Sammy lives or dies is for you to discover (I’ve checked out the second issue and… you’ll see), but it’s a mystery worth discovering, even if it gets off to a rocky start.

You can check out a preview for “Spirit of the Law” #1 on the Monkeybrain site. Issue #2 will be available on November 14th.