In Walker (When the River Rises, 2015, etc.) and Dunbar’s (Dungeons & Dragons: Legends of Baldur's Gate, Vol. 1, 2015, etc.) graphic novel/thriller, priests hoping to save a parish find a less than legitimate way to get the money, only to stir up a whirlwind of misdeeds and bad decisions.
St. Stephen’s Parish in Philadelphia, along with its orphanage, is in danger of being shut down from lack of funds. Everyone’s likewise shaken by thuggish Luca Furio’s final confession to Father Tom Finn, which ended with Furio putting a gun under his own chin and firing. But Tom may know how to save the parish. In his confession, Furio mentioned burying money at his sister Evelyn’s place. Tom distracts Evelyn while two elderly priests, Ben and Cesar, dig through the woman’s backyard. What they uncover is a hefty duffel bag of drugs. When a second attempt to find the cash proves fruitless, the priests look for someone to buy the drugs, setting off a string of unintended consequences. Walker’s work is a never-ending series of twists and surprises. It certainly has its share of violence: multiple guns guarantee that characters will die, while a shovel is good for both digging and knocking someone over the head. The curvy plot, however, can be comical at times. Father Nathan, for example, voices his disapproval of illicit acts by quoting biblical verses, but he’s shockingly good at being a drug dealer when the men try pawning off their stash. The story’s four priests are riveting, willingly stepping into a life of crime for what they believe is the good of the parish. Walker alludes to a murky background for Tom, whose collar hides a sizable tattoo on the back of his neck. Ben and Cesar, meanwhile, are akin to wise grandfathers, making them entirely sympathetic despite their criminal shenanigans. Dunbar’s art is stark and robust, but the choice of black-and-white illustrations is the most revealing: even the most well-intentioned characters have some gray areas. The morally ambiguous ending is nothing short of extraordinary.
Men of God susceptible to human mistakes; profound, stimulating, and, best of all, entertaining.