I’m passingly familiar with Gabriel Hardman’s work, at least as a storyboard artist for Inception and Tropic Thunder (one of my favorite movies of all time), so I know he’s an extremely talented artist. However, I hadn’t read anything he’d written on Savage Hulk, Star Wars: Legacy or his other titles. I can honestly say I’ve missed out. This story, a true horror short, is brutal, simple and utterly terrifying. I won’t spoil it for you but I will say it’s very reminiscent of the very best of The Twilight Zone: honestly scary while still being art.
Speaking of, the artwork here is perfection. Briskly telling the story while setting up the atmosphere with sharp, clean lines and precise use of shading and color. Every character’s face is distinctive, each panel builds and every scene is important. Even the ‘sound’ effects add to the story, with each ‘fwip’ and ‘whoosh’ adding to uneasiness of the characters and the reader.
Unfortunately, to speak about the plot, at all, gives the whole thing away. What I can tell you is that the tension is built through small details. The characters are very bare-bones, with just enough character development to make it interesting to see how they’re going to react to the situation that they’re in. You get the feeling that these people are close, perhaps even purposely chosen for what happens, but you never quite know. Usually this would be a fault but in this case it adds to the stress of reading the story. You want to know more about the characters and what their lives were before the events of the story. In my opinion, that speaks to Hardman’s skill as a writer: he makes these people alive so quickly and so viscerally that I care.
Hardman delivers good old fashioned fear, deftly, with this story.
Five sticks out out of five.