Comics: Heavenly Blues #1 Through #5 - Reviewed

The big sleep, the dirt nap, to go belly up, curtains, to go over the big ridge, to buy the farm or assume room temperature, call it what you will but death comes for us all. It’s the dreaded day we’ve all contemplated, lying in our beds at night, wide eyed and blinking into the darkness. What will happen to us? Will it hurt? Does Heaven exist? What about Hell? How will our stories continue once we reach the other side? 

Writer Ben Kahn and artist Bruno Hidalgo take us on one such adventure in the comic Heavenly Blues. Published through the creator-owned content of Scout Comics, Heavenly Blues brings us the tale of Isiah Jefferson and Erin Foley; two souls damned to spend all of eternity in Hell. Isiah, a great depression-era thief, and Erin, a child grifter from the heyday of the Salem Witch Trials, are approached by the angel Barbiel with a request to pull the heist of the afterlife: break into Heaven and steal a sacred artifact from an Archangel. 

In issues #1-#5, Isiah and Erin assemble the team necessary for such a job, consisting of a feudal era ninja, an outlaw from the Wild West and an Egyptian grave robber. As they make the necessary preparations, they are conscripted to fight forces both traditionally good and evil. These battles mirror the inner turmoil of these characters, as each issue explores the conflicted feelings they hold about their own deaths and ultimate damnation. 

The themes in Heavenly Blues are somewhat on the cliché side. As someone who is not pious, I do not identify with this binary vision of the afterlife. As an idea, it has been used in countless stories both on and off the screen and so I am hoping for any new stories taking place in this trope to breathe some new life into it. So far, Heavenly Blues has fallen a little short. A bank robber, a feudal era ninja, a Wild West outlaw, an Egyptian grave robber and a young outcast female from the Salem, Massachusetts of 1692, are types of characters we have all seen before. 

However, Ben Kahn’s jokes and Bruno Hidalgo’s drawing of the action sequences make Heavenly Blues an exciting and hilarious read. Hidalgo’s edgy perspective panels and use of varying palettes, as he moves the reader between present day hell and each character’s flashbacks, makes his art compelling. Kahn reinforces this edginess with foul-mouthed jokes made fouler by their delivery from a child. 

Heavenly Blues is still in the early stages of its story development. Even though some of these tropes are on the cliché side, the personal touches from both its writer and artist give me hope that this story still has more to deliver. Generally, stories taking place in this world are not overly interesting to me, personally. However, I am still looking forward to seeing where Isiah and Erin take me next and what kind of raunchy, belly laughing jokes they can deliver. Overall, I would recommend this to any reader looking for a fun and witty adventure.

-Dawn Stronski