Welcome to Hoxford
Writer: Ben Templesmith
Artist: Ben Templesmith
32 pp. IDW Publishing. $3.99
Reviewed by Paul Stotts
“I have bested the beast. Now I can take my rightful place amongst the other gods.” –Raymond Delgado “Welcome to Hoxford 3”
The third issue in the excellent Welcome to Hoxford series has dropped and it’s a battle of the beasts. In one corner we have Raymond Delgado, delusional psychopath with a nasty god delusion. And in the other corner, we have a group of Russian werewolves who are in charge of running Hoxford prison. When these two meet, one would imagine that the blood is guaranteed to flow. And that’s exactly what we get here, big bucketfuls of blood as quite a few characters meet their grisly end.
When we left Raymond in the last issue, he was locked up in his cell, waiting to be a snack for a wandering werewolf. Ray had a different take on his situation. He saw it as test, an opportunity to best the beast and ascend to godhood. Well, one measly werewolf isn’t about to stand in the way of Ray’s divine mission. So it’s not long before Ray and a group of fellow prisoners have escaped from their cells. Now all they have to do is avoid the other werewolves stalking the corridors of Hoxford.
Meanwhile, Dr. Jessica Ainley is trying to escape from Warden Baker’s office. The not-so-good Warden had previously locked her in his office, while he went out to hunt the prisoners in his werewolf guise. This wouldn’t have been much of a problem, if Jessica wasn’t dealing with her own imminent werewolf threat. Fortunately, she escapes and stumbles across a group of prisoners roaming the halls. But just when she thought she’d reached safety, the prisoners remind her that she’s the first woman they’ve seen in a while.
All the threatened violence and gruesomeness hinted at in the first two issues of the series has finally materialized here. Writer/artist Ben Templesmith has put together a disturbing little bit of comic mayhem in this issue. It’s intriguing how Ray’s delusions affect his perceptions, and how the reality of the situation reinforces his insanity. He sees the battle with the werewolves as a mythological test, and the strange part is the reader can almost believe this delusion.
While the werewolves are threatening, the prisoners are all disturbing and legitimately creepy. One prisoner’s idea about what to do with a werewolf corpse was profoundly troubling, but it fits into the idea of these men being the most insane psychopaths in the penal system. They make the prisoners from “Con Air” seem like girls scouts on a weekend cookie bender.
Once again, the artwork by Templesmith occasionally appeared rushed in the issue. It’s mostly disappointing, since I know he could do better (but realistically there are time limitations for getting the art done). The werewolves look absolutely great, but some of the action panels are amorphous-looking. Also, the prisoners other than Ray aren’t very distinctive looking and come off as only generic meat for the grinder.
A bit of a step down from the previous two issues, “Welcome to Hoxford #3” is still a strong entrant into the series. Gory and properly disturbing, the issue is a gruesome tour-de-force; it’s like bathing your visual cortex in bloody chunks of meat. I’m excited to see how Ben Templesmith wraps everything up in the next issue. But I’m afraid I’ll need to wear a raincoat while reading it, because blood’s hard to wash out.
Final Grade: 85 out of 100