Pullbox Advance Review! The Beholden #1- Do you want demons? Cuz this is how you get demons!

Agent McClean, of the Bureau’s Occult Science & Research Department, gets no respect. He wants more than anything to be a field agent, but so far the best assignment he can manage is as a tour guide. He gets an unexpected break when a mysterious box is brought in for examination. Pretty sure that he’d get a shot at some field work if he solves the riddle of the box, and the seal etched into its lid, McClean burns the midnight oil and gets to work. With the support of the wise and knowing Guadalupe… honestly, she thinks he should just study for the promotional exams, but she does bring him leftover veggie empanadas… McClean identifies the box for what it is and discovers larger secrets than anyone could have expected.

Taking a break from the much heavier themes of Broken Gargoyles, which stands as one of my favorite titles to come out in the last couple years, Bob Salley dips into a more light-hearted story with The Beholden. The opening issue sets up what could be a great piece of “buddy cop” action as all of the story elements line up for role call. We’ve got the motivated but moderately deluded McClean (seriously, dude, just study for the test!), the tough-as-nails-takes-no-guff cleaning lady Guadalupe to keep him in check, and what may or not turn out to be a full-on demonic incursion into our world.

You keep spinning those plates, Salley… you got this!

The illustrations by “The Becka” (when not just any ol’ Becka will do) serve the tone of the story well. There isn’t much here that would give a reader something to worry about as the no-frill style is well suited to a younger (but not too young) audience. The linework is clean and uncluttered, maybe seeming simplistic at first look but don’t let that fool you. On my second time through the issue, I caught a couple surprises hiding in plain sight. “Easter Eggs” might be a little misleading, but everything you see on the page is definitely “a thing” in the story.

The Beholden may be a palette cleanser for Bob Salley, a breather after scripting some darker titles, and it may seem silly to more serious-minded readers, but it hits a good balance between lurking creeps and easily digestible fluff. With The Becka providing the visuals in full support of the story and its tone, it’s a chance for younger readers to get their spooky on as we head into Halloween season. While its official release isn’t set in stone yet, the team is looking to have it on shelves by the end of the year. In the meantime, interested readers can get hold of Bob Salley directly for a free preview pdf as they look to build up some buzz!

Final Score: 10/13

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