Third appointment with the Edinburgh bookseller created by Gianmarco Fumasoli and Massimiliano Filadoro, also here with the texts and accompanied by Marco Perugini's drawings.
SAMUEL STERN # 003: LEGION adds a lot of meat to the fire as far as the mythology of the series is concerned. After reviewing the first and second book published by Bugs Comics, now let's move on to the third!

- YOU HAVE A FRIEND IN ME ...

The episode opens with the arrival of William Peter Chamber in Samuel's library. Attracted by Rosso's "fame" in entangling himself in situations that have to do with the occult and demons, William asks him for a favor: at the age of twenty-one he was possessed by a demon, born of his solitude and problematic situation in the family between his mother and father. Ringo, so he decides to call the demon, thus becomes his only friend for almost ten years. Now a tumor is forcing William to undergo a very risky operation, and what he asks is another body to host Ringo until the end of the operation, to avoid any risk.
Samuel categorically refuses, but talking to Father Duncan they both find themselves curious about Ringo's nature. A harmless demon is too tempting an opportunity to forget, and it is perhaps the only chance they have to clarify many things about demons ...

Some things start to puzzle me.
First, for three out of three issues we had "the violent father who beats his wife and children" (of course, in THE NEW NIGHTMARE, with Robert Barrach, this issue was more accidental, but still present). I don't know if it is for some narrative or foreshadowing reason that we have a demon always associated with this type of family dynamics, I admit that at the moment this thing makes me turn up my nose and raise more than one eyebrow.
Secondly, secondary characters are still introduced to us which then disappear. This issue is up to Angus Derrylang (we finally found out who writes the introductory page at the beginning of the episode), a sort of restorer who works in Samuel's library, in the previous one we were introduced to Penny Campbell, apparently his best friend, both present in history but absent in the plot. I understand that for the serial choice that has been made to have a closer continuity certain characters are inserted because they will surely be at the center of future events, but seeing them present for a few pages, just to relate to Samuel, and then disappear, I find it particularly ugly .
Why not introduce them to the reader in an episode that directly involves them and where they are the most active part?
Given the end of this issue, I expect the return of another character, sooner or later (it would be very interesting).
For the rest the episode runs as always in a pleasant way, the absurd premise justifies a more Dylandoghian structure than usual (too much, sometimes) which, however, finds the space to give us the type of engaging action and the multifaceted characters that are so dear to me in this series.
The horizontal plot is pressing, in this issue we are introduced to Legion, what most frightens demons, their afterlife. This speech remains smoky (Legion is a place? A concept?) But it is that smoky that works, which ignites speculation in the reader and begins to lead him to search retroactively also for clues and make him erect the antennae for every single detail.

- HOW IS HELL? LOOK, I'LL MAKE YOU A DRAWING ...

On Marco Perugini's tables there would be a lot to say, but in short I found them absolutely fantastic.
The stroke is clear and decisive, with a use of blacks and shadows that manages to give the necessary dramatic tone in the key scenes.
The management of the space of the vignette allows you to alternate detailed and well-defined backgrounds with more comic and synthetic backdrops (use of the screens, black for half the vignette) that bring the shot to highlight the acting of the characters.
Still on the subject of the shot, there are directorial choices in the composition of the splash-pages that lead them from being impactful to memorable.
But there is one though, but I prefer to talk about it among the final considerations ...

- THE DEVIL MAKES THE POTS, BUT NOT THE LIDS

We have reached a point where the choice of format begins to show the side.
I do not make a speech about whether or not to go out on newsstands, I speak precisely of the issue of 98-page episodes and the setting with the formula “Monster of the Month".
I understand the choice in case you don't want to alienate a certain type of regular reader, who can be found in this way "at home" in a new series, but if we are talking about a series that wants to have a different approach and a maxi plot which however links each episode, it would have been better to propose something "new" in every sense.
A choral narrative, for example, would allow the introduction and parallel development of each character and the insertion of subplots would allow us to have them more present and to empathize more and better with them.
Each episode is distinguished by its particular graphics and style, but the problem is also this, each number is different from the other and from the eye this element of discontinuity also affects the perception of the series.
In summary, I find that the structure of the series that has been set up, slavishly Bonellian, is the real weak point of this comic, which should be able to explode for the potential it has and instead it is as if it were with the handbrake perpetually engaged, and my biggest fear is the risk that continuing on this slope this project will begin to crumple itself and to age prematurely.
SAMUEL STERN is undoubtedly proving to be a product of excellent quality, which however still lacks that "WOW" element that makes you count the waiting days between one number and another.