Written By: Christopher Sebela
Art By: Niko Walter
Color Art By: Dan Brown
Letters By: Sal Cipriano
Another week, another Image number 1 issue hits the stands. While I’ve tended to steer clear of as many new books as possible, simply because my budget is already exceeding the planned point, there was something about this cover that screamed out to me. The teal contrasting red idea is a perfect eye grabber, and any fan of horror will be drawn to this book. That said, after reading this book, I absolutely have a new writer to keep my eyes peeled for at the stands.
Image has become a place where a lot of fairly well known creators go to do their own stories, after making a name at Marvel, DC, or another company of the like. While I give absolutely no blame to the creators doing this, or the publisher putting out these (usually very solid) books, there are fewer and fewer new voices from the company. While Sebela isn’t a new voice, as I’ve recalled him from his book High Crimes, which received a lot of acclaim, he was new to me. What immediately struck me about this book was just how dense it was. Each page seemed jammed packed with text and art, but the story never appeared to slow. It’s certainly not the wordiest book on the stands, but the storytelling is so compressed and moving from action to action, it’s a different look from a lot of ultra decompressed stories we get.
The story takes us through the journey of Scott, a detective responding to an active homicidal rampage. What is presumed to be just another crazy person takes a dark turn, as the killer mentions the name Novo, and the scene, and later Scott’s life, quickly go off the rails.As his familiy gets pulled into the fray, there’s a lot that comes from Scotts past, and the story really allows Sebela to flex his horror, and downright grotesque at times, storytelling muscles. In the back matter of the book, Sebela explains that a lot of his inspiration comes from a film called Kill List, which discusses past actions causing consequences. Also, in an aspect that was screaming from each page, there’s a lot to draw toward Japanese horror Manga Uzumaki. Even fans of more commonly known films like Ringu and Audition, will see the parallels, which is an excellent touch without being heavy handed.
At first glance, I really want to love this art. The figure work reminds me closest to Alex Maleev, but the rendering of truly horrific and gross scenes will stick with you. Design wise, Niko Walter kills it on this book. Much like the script, the story seems tight and compact, almost crammed with detail from page to page. This does nice to add tension to the story, as Walter uses the space to his advantage. The only issue comes in the panel to panel storytelling. I know I sound like a broken record with this, but if you’re looking at certain panels, and some of the faces seem very stiff and occasionally wonky, it can throw you off. Generally, Walter managed to pull me back in with the design, but the stiffness occasionally lost me. That said, the color work by Dan Brown is excellent. The reds sing in each panel, and the initial meeting with the killer in the first sequence, where she’s depicted as a red, grainy figure in a sea of black, is a beautiful color choice that will stick with you. While it can get a little texture heavy in the backgrounds, the tone of the story gives credence to that slightly off kilter feel. While the texture making me uneasy would usually be a detraction, it works for this story.
Even with some minor notes in the art, Demonic is looking to be another horror hit from Image. When the 6 issues wrap up, this will make for a nice trade or hardcover to have on the shelf, and Sebela is building a strong catalogue for the future.
4.5 Flies out of 5