Writer: James Tynion IV
Illustrator: Werther Dell’edera
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
WHAT IS IT?
A supernatural horror story set in the American heartland.
This terrifying ongoing series will make fans of IT and Stranger Things feel right at home.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A small town in Wisconsin, nine kids dead in two weeks, and more go missing by day. Something is killing the children, but what?
James has had nightmares before, but he never realized that his life would become one. After a game of Truth or Dare that leaves his three best friends dead, James is trying to put the pieces of his life back together.
As the body count rises, and the missing posters envelop the Archer’s Peak community board, James realizes there is only one person who knows what’s really happening: the strange blonde girl with the knives. And he wants to help.
As the horror unfolds across the pages of this comic, you will soon find out what lies deep in the woods of this quiet American town.
The tone really sets the stage here, as every scene is steeped in darkness and a foreboding presence. Anything can happen out in the woods. That’s true even for the opening scene of the book as James and his friends sit in the dark playing truth or dare. You can sense the unease among the children, specifically their dialogue at what James is describing from his most recent nightmare. The final dialogue of the scene, especially in its delivery, contains foreshadowing for terrible events to come.
There’s one piece of dialogue that sent chills down my spine, and at the same time I could hear James’s grief and loss of innocence. He says “I heard them screaming.” as he wipes the stream of tears away from his eyes and the detective looks down at his desk, unsure of what to say.
The plot focuses a lot on the development of two characters, James and Erica (the aforementioned blonde girl with the knives). This is the first issue, so everything is still being set up for the rest of the series, but the story so far still has an edge-of-your-seat pace! It does not hold back when it comes to scenes of horror and terror the characters have to experience.
The illustration in this comic is phenomenal. The art is more stylized than realistic, but due to the supernatural elements of the book, I feel that it fits much better.
The character design in particular floored me, especially Erica’s. Her outfit is simple, a white tank top covered in blood, and tight black pants. She also wears a fang-stenciled bandanna that she wraps around her face when she’s hunting. And when she wears that outfit, in addition to carrying her two machetes, she looks like a monster herself.
The paneling is not particularly experimental, but it is very competently done. There are a few two-page spreads throughout the book that I did thoroughly enjoy. The scenes where James is in the woods trying to find his friends were probably the highlight of the first issue for me. There is also only one instance where they break a panel in this issue, and it is used to great effect (you can see that on page 7, which is included in this review).
The illustrator also uses rougher lines for shading and crosshatching that I think lends itself well to increasing the tension of the scene and to show emotions on people's faces. They clash against the more fluid lines that make up the rest of the illustration, making them more noticeable and pronounced.
The more muted color palette, used for the majority of the scenes, is actually very nice to look at. When it comes to the more horrific moments they seem to pop off the page when they use brighter colors because of this color scheme. Especially when the blood starts spraying or when someone is covered in it.
The lettering in this book is great! The word balloons are well placed and have a very readable font. The action lettering is superb, enhancing the horror elements when needed. There are some very interesting artistic choices the letterer chose for the balloons in a certain scene that made them look like they were melting – I was a big fan of that.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
Mature Content Warning: Blood, Gore, Dismemberment, Swearing.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
You should read this comic if you like horror, supernatural mysteries and well-crafted comics. There is so much here in this first issue that just made me so excited to see what was coming next in Chapter 2.
I recommend that any horror fan should read this comic! Unless you have a severe aversion to blood and gore.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Harrow County by Cullen Bunn & Tyler Crook
Tomboy by Mia Goodwin & Amy Chu
Outcast by Robert Kirkman & Paul Azaceta
If you like the art:
Resonant by David Andry & Alejandro Aragon
Crescent City Monsters by Newton Lilavois & Gian Carlo Bernal
Nailbiter by Joshua Williamson & Mike Henderson
ABOUT THE CREATORS
James Tynion IV – Writer
He's well-known for his DC Comics work
Award-Winner: Won the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comic Series in 2017
Also wrote THE WOODS, a comic currently in development for the SyFy channel
Werther Dell’edera – Illustrator
Outlander: Hails from Italy
Often uses heavy inks and moody lighting in his scenes
Miquel Muerto – Colorist
Outlander: Lives in Barcelona, Spain
According to his site, he likes to draw people smoking and paint explosions but hates tobacco and strong noises
Also runs a small press with friends: Termita Press
AndWorld Design – Letterer
Is a lettering & design studio founded by seasoned letterer, Deron Bennett
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