RESONANT, ISSUE #1
Writer: David Andry Art: Alejandro Aragón Publisher: Vault Comics
WHAT IS IT?
While we don't get much in the way of an overall reveal, this first issue positions Resonant as a post-apocalyptic survival/horror story.
There's a definite "sound" aspect of this, which puts you in mind of A Quiet Place. But the big bad antagonistic horror element seems more philosophical than anything, yet anthropomorphized on some level? And that, I can't think of a comparable piece of popular media for.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Rebecca lives with her family after what seems like a great tragedy changed the world forever. She has no mother present, but she has brothers and a father to share a home with.
Unfortunately, her father has to leave to find help, or a way to safety, or something that will save them from whatever terrors await out there. But whatever it is...is dangerous.
But what happens when danger comes knocking for Rebecca and her father?
Resonant #1 is a rare gem of a comic. Often, when setting up worlds much different from our own, first issues can feel a little like a slog. This one drops you right into the action. It's not quite in medias res, but it doesn't take a lot of time to explain things to you – you just have to glean what you can from context. Each new term, each reveal, they only serve to unbalance you more and make you want to ask more questions. Before you know it, you've finished the issue, and you're desperate for the next one.
The family at the center of Resonant are all Black, and Rebecca, who seems like our main character, has a physical disability. While the disability raises the stakes and tension in the face of the dangers of the apocalypse, it's also just great to see minority groups represented in stories. Especially when they're central to them.
As a character, it's easy to love Rebecca. You feel like she's taken over for her absent mother in many of the responsibilities, and her bravery and heroism in times of danger make you admire her all the more.
There's a fear from others that pervades everything. I don't think the characters spoke much about it, but it goes without saying that you shouldn't trust strangers...especially after the world ends. Who knows, maybe they all played survival/horror MMOs on the computer and learned the hard way pre-apocalypse how little you can trust others once society collapses.
While seeing other people can be scary in the apocalypse, Resonant seems to be more about surreal terror. Alejandro Aragón's sketchy style and horrifying representation of others makes you feel that terror in the hair on the back of your neck. You sense the danger in scenes and situations, and you want to shout at the characters, "Get out of there!"
I have also never been terrified from color until I saw these pages from Jason Wordie. You know how you can sense it in the air when a storm is coming? Like, nothing looks different except for maybe some clouds, but you feel it? Wordie captures that in his palette, and it's so sudden (after a page turn) that it hits you with a jolt.
The build-up of tension and terror doesn't end there. The people of this world use cicadas as a kind of canary in a coal mine, telling them when another "wave" is coming. Deron Bennett has their chirps drone on, their sound effects getting larger and larger to show how loud they are and, likely, how much danger our characters are in. Every creator on the title works together to craft these moments out of pure terror.
The cicadas (or "chirpers" as they're called here) are such an interesting mechanic. At a a base level, they're this kind of gross creature, hanging around in piles in a cage outside the characters' home. They're a biological alarm, way creepier than, say, a radio that only plays static (what Silent Hill reference?). But beyond that, I think they could also represent "transition" (being creatures we often see after they emerge from their old forms, which they leave behind as husks) or "brevity" (because, compared to ours, their lives are so short after emerging with their wings).
I'm not sure who does the texture between Wordie and Aragón, but they use it to great effect on the page to represent distance or the texture of a specific object, or shadow, or just a mood, and it creates these scenes that your eyes can't help but stick to like gorgeous flypaper.
I love what Bennett does with the dialogue at one point, obscuring it and making it unreadable in sections as a character either has trouble speaking or we have trouble hearing them over all the other sounds in a scene. I'm assuming it's the former, and maybe they're having trouble speaking with conviction or remembering the words they are supposed to say at all, which seems like it could be a big deal.
The mantra characters have to say to protect themselves from the "waves" is fascinating. I'm no philosophy buff, but it seems based in Nihilism or the concept of Śūnyatā, the latter of which can both mean emptiness or a meditative state, two things which we have context for in the text. Interpreting it in one way or the other will lead to vastly different interpretation of events in the comic. But I do think it's interesting that characters seem to hurt themselves when they aren't prepared for a wave, and that meditating to try to become an empty vessel, devoid of those emotions and everything else, helps defend against the wave's effects.
Current theory: Resonant is keeping us unbalanced because it's not actually a horror story – it just wants us to think it is. Otherwise, Vault would have had it come out on its new horror imprint, Nightfall (although, it will come out at the time the Nightfall titles start hitting stands, so maybe it will be a part of it, after all). Also, Bec plants a seed in the comic's very first scene. It feels hopeful, both as a defining characteristic for Rebecca but also as something we might visit later, to prove all is not lost.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
Resonant will engulf you – you won't want to put it down. For that reason alone, I want to suggest waiting for the trade so you can read it all in one sitting, BUT ALSO DON'T DO THAT because it's also SO GOOD and you should buy all the individual issues as they come out.
For people who need to know why everything is happening, this could be a frustrating title, as answers are not readily available.
Just a heads-up that this would probably be a terrifying title for kids, since it is also likely a terrifying title for adults.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Resonant does what almost nothing else can in the horror genre: something new.
Yes, it seems to take place after the world ends. But a large part of the horror in Resonant seems more philosophical or conceptual, which is a fascinating new approach to the genre.
Couple that with a massively talented team with a single creative vision and a plot that keeps you guessing, and you've got one horror comic that you will not be able to put down.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
The Wild Uncertain by David Andry & Paul Schultz
Sweet Tooth by Jeff Lemire
Earworm by Rick Quinn, Milton Lawson, & Martyn Lorbiecki
If you like the art:
Death Orb, Vol. 1 by Alejandro Aragón & Ryan Ferrier
Wytches by Scott Snyder & Jock
Black Science by Rick Remender & Matteo Scalera
ABOUT THE CREATORS
David Andry – Writer
Multitalented: Is also a physical therapist who says he "makes really good cookies"
New Face: Is very new to comics
Alejandro Aragón – Illustrator
Outlander: Hails from Argentina
His style seems to use that sketchy, visceral aesthetic combined with dramatic lighting
Jason Wordie – Colorist
Outlander: Lives in Canada
Jason Wordie has some serious range in his work, but does seem to gravitate toward melancholic palettes
Deron Bennett (AndWorld Design) – Letterer
Founded AndWorld Design, a lettering & design studio
Multitalented: Also wrote the comic, Quixote
Has a cool video where he talks about why he loves lettering
Adrian F. Wassel – Editor
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
Tim Daniel – Designer
Multitalented: Also was the writer on Vault title, Fissure
Inspired by others in the business: Sonia Harris, Sean Phillips, and Fonographics
Dream Team: Co-wrote Curse and Burning Fields with Michael Moreci
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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