Writer: Peter Milligan
Illustrator: Sally Cantirino
Publisher: Vault Comics
WHAT IS IT?
Excessive emotional displays could cause a horrific death by alien monsters in the latest horror and science-fiction comic series from Vault Comics.
Think monsters, mayhem, and malfeasance like A Quiet Place and War of the Worlds.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Humans thrive on emotion. Whether it's the joyous outburst of a child about a new milestone or a raucous sex romp, mankind express their feelings through passionate sentiments. What if the world was taken over by alien lifeforms who kill anyone displaying strong emotions?
In Human Remains, Dax and Bisa are ecstatic about their upcoming wedding. Professor Naresh Sharma has a child who must learn how to repress his innate emotions. If humanity doesn't keep their emotions in check, they face a grotesque death.
Monstrous lifeforms have invaded Earth, leaving human remains in their wake.
Heavy topics such as mental health, misogyny, and domestic violence intersect in Human Remains. Peter Milligan impeccably layers subtext and several substantive themes within a monster story, which is no easy task.
Sally Cantirino seems to enhance her illustrative talent with every new comic her name is on. I dare to say her art in Human Remains, writhing with disgusting imagery and shadowy creatures around the corner, is her best work yet.
Dearbhla Kelly's color work in every panel summons a physical reader response as the comic's tone swings back and forth like a pendulum.
Lettering and SFX by AndWorld Design take on the onus of creating a diegetic comic world. Screams are brought to the foreground with enlarged typeface.
SFX denoting the noises the lifeforms make as they murder their victims skitter inside condensed panel borders, creating a feeling of claustrophobia and fright. Death does not come softly in Human Remains, and the SFX characterizes human expendability.
Milligan's script assesses the adverse psychological and physiological effects emotional repression induces without reservation, beyond the evident threat of death by alien.
Cantirino should be designing monster concept art for films. The insidious creatures she inks into existence sow fear of incredible proportions into the comic.
I have nothing but high praise for Kelly's coloring in Human Remains. Their juxtaposition of light with dark, monochromatic drab colors with a triadic color scheme of red, pink, and white, delineates tone cinematically. Colorists should take notes on how to implement color theory from this comic.
Representation of minorities, inter-racial marriages, and positive portrayals of women are not heavy-handed, but thoughtfully present in Human Remains. Bisa and Professor Sharma are both strong women characters, and I look forward to seeing how their arcs progress as the series continues.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Content Warning: Don't like violence, graphic gore, and seeing human bodies getting absolutely massacred? Run away from this comic like there's an alien after you! Also, there are depictions of domestic violence which may be triggering for readers.
Again, the domestic violence scene occurs suddenly without any warning. The message is clear and poignant, but the page can be disconcerting for certain readers.
A huge theme in Human Remains is about denying reality and protesting against it. These depictions may hit upsetting, traumatic chords for readers since it's a direct parallel of real-world disinformation and associated protester groups.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
As discussions regarding mental health become more prominent, stories like Human Remains have become relevant and required reading. In Human Remains, people are forced to do the exact opposite of what any mental health advice recommends: Repress your emotions. Of course, in the real world, we won't be murdered by a giant skeleton monster if we release our inhibitions. But the comic goes further in its dissection of balancing emotion. Human Remains is simultaneously grotesque, stomach-churning, and provocative.
Life is tough. We need catharsis, a purging of emotions. We need venting methods to release the conflicting mental battles emotional and physical turmoil creates. Human Remains is a terrifying, visceral, comic about a war with a disturbingly scary enemy, but more importantly, the disturbing wars we wage with our own emotions.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Happy Hour by Peter Milligan & Michael Montenat
God of Tremors by Peter Milligan & Piotr Kowalski
Blue In Green by Ram V & Anand RK
If you like the art:
I Walk With Monsters by Paul Cornell & Sally Cantirino
The Final Girls by Cara Ellison & Sally Cantirino
The Autumnal by Daniel Kraus & Chris Shehan
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Peter Milligan – Writer (@1PeterMilligan)
Name-Recognition: He is most known for being the longest-running writer of the Hellblazer comic and his work on Human Target and Shade, the Changing Man.
Critically acclaimed, he has written popular comics like Britannia and Kid Lobotomy for IDW Publishing.
Multitalented: He is a British writer and has worked in the comic book, film, and television industries.
Sally Cantirino – Illustrator (@sally_cantirino)
Sally self-published zines and comics in high school. She is an alumni of the Pre-College Program at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, and the Sequential Artists Workshop in Gainesville, Florida.
She has has contributed to anthologies and worked as an artist on comics like Last Song, We Have to Go Back, I Walk With Monsters, and The Final Girls.
She hails from New Jersey.
Dearbhla Kelly – Colorist (@dearbhlala)
They are an extremely talented illustrator, colorist, and designer.
Known prominently for coloring comics such as Paradiso, Red Sonja, and Pantomime.
Dream Team: Kelly worked as a colorist on I Walk With Monsters with artist Sally Cantirino.
AndWorld Design – Letterer (@andworlddesign)
A lettering design studio founded by Eisner, Harvey and Ringo nominated letterer, Deron Bennet.
Have previously worked with DC Comics, Marvel, BOOM Studios, and many more.
Tim Daniel – Designer (@TimDanielComics)
Multitalented: Has written or co-written several comics including Enormous and Fissure.
Has Second Rocket Comics, which handles design and production for comics along with "Logos for the independently minded creator".
Dream Team: Co-wrote Curse and Burning Fields with Michael Moreci.
Adrian F. Wassel – Editor (@afwassel)
Name Recognition: Is the CCO & Editor-In-Chief of Vault Comics, and plays the role of editor on most, if not all, of Vault's titles
Also runs Vault with his brother and father
Has personally helped other comics creators in their endeavors, even for non-Vault comics work
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The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All Human Remains characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Peter Milligan and Sally Cantirino or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED