Warning: Contains mild spoilers
Written by John Lees
Art by Dalibor Talajić
Colored by Lee Loughridge
Cover by Keron Grant
Hotell #3 is the most frustrating – and disturbing – entry into this series. Disturbing because the creative team of Lees and Talijic continue to offer up top-quality scares and frustrating because there is no happy ending for the protagonist of this issue.
Kristen is a journalist pursued by demons. She arrives at Pierrot Courts Hotel hoping to confront them. Naturally, things do not go as expected.
Veering away from the black comedy of the previous issue, Hotell #3 is tense, grim and close to unrelenting in its bleakness. However, this is a deliberate choice by Lees. It’s his chance to demonstrate that Pierrot Courts Hotel is a place of corruption, a pit of despair, and good intentions offer no protection. The dialogue is tense and every revelation seems to pulse with pain.
Kristen is a fresh take on a horror archetype, that of the plucky female protagonist going up against the forces of darkness. She’s Starling reimagined for the 21st century. But despite her familiarity, Lees manages to give us someone who comes across as authentic, a person we could meet on the street. It’s a mark of his skill that the reader feels so deeply for her.
Talijic’s art continues to delight. Whether rendering scenes straight out of a police procedural drama (NBC’s Hannibal is the most apt comparison) or more surreal set-pieces, he manages to create a plausible world. You get the feeling that Pierrot Courts Hotel lies just beyond the outskirts of your home city.
Any distaste I felt towards the ending stems solely from my personal preference for justice, especially in scenarios involving female characters. However, Lees and Talijic handle the comic’s gruesome aspects with aplomb and it never feels gratuitous. Hardened horror fans will appreciate the craft and visceral elegance of this issue.