Although this is Vol. 2, Blood Lines is a complete story over three volumes, so there’s no recap, just the continuation from Vol. 1. There Rob Walton introduced a tormented central character in a crumbling world with many Biblical overtones. Deborah Judges is a fearless gang enforcer who until very recently had few concerns about her career, her methods and the results. Now, though, the indications are she’s being set up by gang overlord Manasseh. One of the few honest police detectives wants to bring Deborah to account, but is frustrated by corruption and collusion above her level.

As he’s the artist as well as the writer, Walton drops relevant information into the panels without drawing attention to them, so be aware. He also has a fine line in demonic imagery, with assorted foul creatures well designed and capering about in the company of gangsters, and the violence is intentionally shocking and gruesome. There’s considerable effort invested in bringing a massive cast to life, and Walton will occasionally nod toward manga creators who combine cartooning with ultra-realistic locations. While the people can be a little stiff, there are some magnificently designed pages here.

In the broadest terms Blood Lines is about the eternal battle between light and darkness coming to a head, or at least a cyclical peak, and for readers used to everything being spelled out in a conflict story it’s not easy reading. Belief in prophecy is fundamental, and characters are prone to quoting the Bible to justify their actions, much like our world in this respect where it’s so often the first refuge of scoundrels. A prominent character named Saul was killed in Vol. 1, and yet his appearances here are plentiful as Walton begins to connect people. He’s Deborah’s father, and a zealot who survives torture in World War II to brutalise his daughter in the belief she’s the Champion of God. Her background provides the tragic centrepiece to this volume.

Once some disclosures are out in the open the attention turns to Manasseh. Who is he? Why does he have such a hold on the Inferno’s residents? Walton presents much in mythical terms, people given evocative nicknames and death a constant presence and motivation, but not everything is given away. For all the Biblical intrusions, Walton’s also supplying a captivating, character-based action thriller, and dealing with genre tropes means there’s a predictability to one character’s arc. Their eventual fate provides a final spur, but perhaps one element of knowing procession among so much that’s really out there is no bad thing.

As Vol. 2 ends, several characters have met their fate, and so have pushed others toward an inevitable clash. It raises the interesting question of whether inevitability is a genuine force of prophecy or something engineered merely because it’s been foretold. Maybe that’ll be among the revelations of Vol. 3.

Transparency requires noting that Walton has contributed reviews to this site.