Opening Remarks (Mostly ramblings): To be honest, I’d forgotten about this series as I’d seen a preview of it in Comic Shop News a while back but never could shake that disturbingly creepy cover. Two Wednesdays ago I saw it on the new rack section and, after flipping through it, added it to my ever increasing pile. However, for the first time in a long time I exercised some sort of financial discretion over my comic spending and asked Wayne, one of the awesome crew who’s been there for more than 15 years now, if he’d put all of my extra books in my “file” for next week (Nov 14). He gracefully did so and that was that. I read it today at work, after inwardly wincing, and probably outwardly too, at that cover again. I didn’t know what to expect and started reading. I can say, without a shadow of doubt, that this was the most intriguing first issue I’ve read so far this year.
Plot Summary: We’re introduced to an insane asylum in 1941 that’s being patrolled by some cops. They’re just rehashing their previous nightly adventures when the asylum bursts into flames. Immediately, the creepiness sets in. The first patient we see is seemingly oblivious to the peril and actually comments that the she feels good as her hair and head catch on fire. She’s smiling and laughing the whole time. As you’d expect, there’s utter chaos reigning inside as there’s not enough staff to deal with the patients. Here we also find my only qualm as one staff member says “Restrain the patients!” Really?! Most of them are on fire and you want to restrain them? The same idiot also rejects the idea of summoning the help of the police and/or fire department and insists on the in house care taking care of things themselves, but I digress. A portal of some kind opens and the character Jack Nimble steps through and whispers to the only patient whose name we learn, Declan, “Hello Declan, you will grow colder.”
Skip to today, we follow a woman named Reece Talbot as she heads home after stopping by a coffee cart. Turns out, she has taken to caring for Declan, whose personal files and information have been lost, for five years. He’s not only been comatose that entire time, but his body temperature has been constantly dropping over the years. Currently, it’s at 47 ̊ and he hasn’t aged at all. He does take care of his personal grooming and toilet needs and speaks in one word utterances, but that’s the extent of his interactions. While I’d like nothing more to give more details and the major events of the book you’ll be much happier reading it for yourself.
Summary Judgment: I have nothing but good to say about this book, if you couldn’t tell from the Opening Remarks. The creative staff is surprisingly small but the product they made is a perfect blend of creepily engaging story, beautifully rendered, realistic art, and lettering that never misses a beat. Tobin’s story progresses at a natural pace and features natural feeling dialogue and situations. Juan Ferreyra’s art is just downright amazing as he does all the art for the book. The subtle color shifts used to differentiate the past, present, and even one thrillingly eerie moment are a visual treat. Lettering, the unsung hero of comics, only adds to the natural feel of the book and goes a long way to help convey characters’ emotions. Final score: 5/5. This is how you do a first issue. Do not miss out on this wonderfully crafted book because you’ll be kicking yourself later. Thank you all for reading! You can catch this review with pictures over here at comicvine.
Afterword: I don’t give out 5's very often as a book with this score has to take the extra step and thrill me, but this book did. I even wrote a fan e-mail after reading it as I just had to tell the creators what a fantastic job they did. At this rate, it may become my new favorite series of the year, but it’ll be hard pressed to compete with SW: Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison. My only concerns are that this five issue series will lose this momentum but I’m hoping against hope that it somehow turns out better than this issue.