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A Southern Gothic Tale In Dark Spaces: Good Deeds

Dark Spaces: Good Deeds
Che Grayson – writer
Kelsey Ramsay – artist
Ronda Pattison – colorist
Shawn Lee – lettering
IDW
$3.99

Florida conjures all sorts of imagery…sunshine, beaches, great Cuban food, manatees, Miami’s art deco buildings, and Disney World. On the other hand you’ve have “Florida Man”, that group of certain type of men infamously known for shameful behavior, outrageous crimes, and other bad deeds. Then there’s the governor from hell who is hell bent on turning the state into a fascist dystopia.

A lesser known fact about Florida is the city of St Augustine’s claim to being the oldest continuously occupied city founded by Don Pedro Menendez De Aviles in 1565, 42 years before the English settlement at Jamestown. Then there’s the city’s association with the mythical Fountain of Youth that Ponce De Leon set off in search of, for exploitation no doubt, after hearing rumors of it from Native People. A location with four and a half centuries of colonial history must have other stories mired in dark secrets of both the mundane and paranormal kind.

St Augustine is where Dark Spaces: Good Deeds comes in. Out for release on May 17th, the limited series by writer Che Grayson (they/them), artist Kelsey Ramsay, and colorist Ronda Pattison is the new installment of the Scott Snyder curated Dark Spaces anthology series which is part of IDW’s Originals line of creator owned works. Like last summer’s Dark Spaces: Wildfire by Scott Snyder, Hayden Sherman (they/them) along with Ronda Pattison, that explored the emotional trauma of five incarcerated female fire fighters and social and penal circumstances exploiting them, Grayson and Ramsay’s Good Deeds promises to explore the emotional and psychological interiors of its three central characters, Jean McKnight and mother and daughter Rebecca and Cheyenne Rite.

McKnight is a news reporter for an Atlanta newspaper now being managed by former colleague Ben. Grayson and Ramsay give McKnight’s character depth with workplace drama stemming from a mysterious incident five years prior involving a person named Sara Kingsley. What happened will surely be revealed bit by bit in upcoming issues but for now the creators only tease readers with a brief flashback and the tension between Ben and McKnight. With her career and life in a downward spiral ever since, Ben delivers an ultimatum to take a puff piece assignment of covering St Augustine’s 450th anniversary celebration or else. Putting pride aside, McKnight travels to the “nation’s oldest city” to interview the city’s Founders Council, four men who ooze proper Southern etiquette. There is more to them than meets the eye as the clues planted by the creators attest.

A visit to the local high school puts McKnight on a course to bump into Cheyenne Rite. Cheyenne and mom Rebecca are newly transplanted to the city; Rebecca bought the Westway Diner which the pair rename the Rite-Way Diner after putting in lots of elbow grease to restore the down and out restaurant. The Southern charm McKnight encounters with the Founders Council members is sharply contrasted in scenes with these two women, but especially Cheyenne. According to the school principal “community values run deep here” among the townspeople even as Ramsay vividly illustrates just how cliquish, bullying, and physically threatening some of Cheyenne’s new classmates can be. Till now the paths of McKnight and the Rites have not crossed but chance encounter between McKnight and Cheyenne reveals an empathetic side to the reporter’s personality and it’s here we teased that McKnight’s downward spiral began when she violated her jounalistic integrity. With scraggly beard, wild hair, and tattered baseball cap, former diner owner Mr. Foster is visually the opposite of everything the men on the Council present themselves to be. You can almost smell his body odor reeking through his tee shirt. His despicable intentions and actions will have unexpected and horrifying consequences, leaving Cheyenne and Rebecca in shock while Grayson and Ramsay leave the reader to ponder the nature of a paranormal manifestation.

Jean McKnight was once driven to tell the truth. She’s begged for the opportunity to do so again. Quite unexpectedly she’ll have that chance now but will anyone believe her?

Dark Spaces: Good Deeds will appeal to readers who enjoy character driven work, Southern Gothic fiction, and stories with strong female protagonists, psychological tension, the paranormal or supernatural, and a good dash of social commentary woven in.

May 16, 2023
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