A good crime story keeps readers on their toes with twists that shift the direction of the story, and Vertigo’s American Carnage has consistently delivered in this respect. Written by Bryan Edward Hill with art by Leandro Fernández, colorist Dean White, and letterer Pat Brosseau, this series about a disgraced FBI agent infiltrating a group of white supremacists puts it central character through the wringer, forcing him to break the law in increasingly severe and surprising ways to prove his loyalty. The first arc ended with the biggest bombshell yet: Richard’s employers know about his affiliation with the FBI, and they’re willing to give him information about the murder he’s trying to solve if he gets rid of agitators within their ranks. Their leader is running for the U.S. Senate, and while they want the support of the alt-right, they can’t have that support leading to public behavior that puts the campaign at risk.
This exclusive preview of this week’s American Carnage #7 has Richard gaining his latest task: use his FBI connections to save the life of a junkie targeted by the Aryan brotherhood. These pages are driven by the tension between Richard and his boss/lover, Jennifer, the daughter of the Senate candidate who uses Richard’s attraction to her to manipulate him. Fernández effectively creates an ominous atmosphere in a sunny setting with strong use of shadows, particularly in the second panel when Richard looks through the mansion’s front doorway and sees only darkness. That void stands out even more thanks to the bright coloring that surrounds it, with White using a gold-dominated palette to accentuate the wealth of the world Richard reluctantly visits. Fernández and White are a phenomenal pairing, and the sudden rush of violence at the end of this excerpt highlights how well the visuals adjust for the shifts in Hill’s script, dramatically changing the compositions and color palette to reinforce the brutality of this story.