Devil’s Highway is a thrilling murder mystery ready to stun readers!
Devil’s Highway is a graphic novel by Benjamin Percy and Brent Schoonover. The AWA Studios comic is a dramatic and gruesome look at the invisible lives of truckers across America and the heinous crimes they may commit. While real-life truckies might not be thrilled with their portrayal in the story, readers will be as they turn the pages to find a killer.
After the events of Volume One, Sharon Harrow returns to a familiar scene: murder. After discovering a stack of bodies along the US/Canada border, Sharon and Quentin Skinner are on the case. And, if you’re familiar with Volume One, the connection of the ouroboros (snake eating its own tail) shines through in the opening pages.
Both Benjamin Percy and Brent Schoonover are back at their best in Volume Two. From the opening pages, we are thrust into a world of inequity and social class, and racial injustice. As the truck travels towards the border, we immediately create a connection with the refugees aboard the Freightliner. And that connection makes it so much worse when you see them all splayed bloody on a field being feasted upon by a murder of crows.
Where Volume One is a slow burn that culminates in an action-packed finale, Volume Two has your heart pounding and questions soaring from the get-go. Percy and Schoonover have pounced upon the benefits of a sequel by utilizing the reader’s knowledge of the characters (more on that in a moment), so they can focus on the story and salvage precious space within the comic.
Much like the previous installment, Volume Two gets off to a riveting start. The first issue is packed with edge-of-your-seat thrills and questions. Not only are we privy to another seedy constituent of the invisible world of truck drivers but the attention is focused on human trafficking and, much like Season 4 of The Sinner, Devil’s Highway steers away from Mexico and drives us to the USA and Canada border. It will be interesting to see how this aspect folds into the rest of the story.
The creators waste no time continuing the development of the main characters and this is a marked improvement over Volume One. Quentin Skinner’s medium-esque abilities shine through from the opening pages as he helps Sharon and then postulates an old friend’s illness. Perhaps Skinner is leaning further toward a mystical calling as he pulls out some Tarot cards. Will these link to further issues, who knows?
Sharon keeps her zero-to-one-hundred personality where fists follow words as quickly as breaths. Some complaints have come from Sharon’s supposed “Mary Sue” achievements, and I can see how that view may be warranted. It would be nice to see her stumble within Volume Two in order to raise the stakes, so to speak, and create a sense of uncertainty within the reader’s mind.
I reread Devil’s Highway: Volume One to refresh myself before I began Volume Two, and I have to say I was thoroughly impressed. I sometimes felt during One that the story was rushed and/or problems easily solved but although the story moves quickly in Issue #1 of Volume Two, I get the sense of a deeper story. This will be welcomed by readers to help them overcome instances of cliche or unoriginal storylines.
The visuals are realistically gritty and highly detailed, drawing (wink) you into the world while still packing a punch along with Sharon! Each of the artistic aspects—pencils, backgrounds, and lettering—work together to provide a fuller understanding of the environment and tone. By incorporating these features, Schoonover has enabled the intensity on the page to succinctly interact with the written narrative, and, therefore, pull the reader deeper into the story. Schoonover captures the nuances of characters’ actions and reactions with subtle facial expressions and imposing angles to evoke emotion from the page.
Filled with rich characters and a fleshed-out setting, Devil’s Highway is a thrilling murder mystery ready to stun readers. With another solid concept, Volume Two has the potential to beat out Volume One’s shock value. What terrifying truths will they unearth as they navigate institutional privilege and murder syndicates? If you are a fan of murder mysteries, Netflix thrillers, or just love a good badass protagonist, get your hands on Devil’s Highway or die trying.
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