Writer: Noah Dorsey
Artist: Zsombor Huzska
One of the things that continues to impress me about the titles that are submitted to me for review on a weekly basis is the sheer diversity of stories on display. So far I’ve been able to read cooky illustrated travelogues, sprawling sci-fi adventures and tense character-based dramas (to name but a few!), and now – well – now it’s time for the completely and utterly disturbing to take its turn.
Saint Chaos has a premise that instantly grabs your attention. Simon Monroe is a man who has lost all interest in life as a result of the almost unthinkable series of events that have occurred prior to us meeting him. Suicidal without the guts to do the deed himself, he decides as a last ditch measure to try and enact a local ‘urban legend’ whereby he leaves a SPECIFICS.
However, rather than a supernatural death, Monroe finds himself abducted by a deranged, sadistic and utterly chilling serial killer calling himself ‘Honeycomb’. A connoisseur of torture who specialises in brutal, drawn-out deaths, Honeycomb agrees to end Simon’s life… but only on his terms. So he is released, given the chilling ultimatum that his life will be ended in four days – on Honeycomb’s birthday.
Finally seeing an end to his torment, Monroe finds himself coming to the aid of a boy being preyed on by the denizens of the city. And in his fearless approach buoyed by the utter lack of consequence to his actions, he finally finds himself feeling the first twinges of happiness in as long as he can remember. And so, Saint Chaos is born. Not a ‘hero’, by any means. Just a man who has given up on life trying to spend his remaining days chasing the distant memory of feeling important and worthwhile.
The first thing that grabs your attention about this comic – aside from the brilliantly inventive premise – is the absolutely stunning artwork of Zsombor Huzska. Using a mostly grayscale approach punctuated by flashes of colour for emphasis, his heavily-shadowed charcoal and ink style works perfectly to capture the dark, foreboding and menacing aura that this book is built around. His characters are grotesquely exaggerated yet filled with detail, and his crowning glory – the utterly disturbing Honeycomb – is an almost mesmerisingly chilling horror creation.
Writer Noah Dorsey clearly has a gift for the dramatic, and while his approach can be a little monologue-heavy, there’s no denying the impact of his words. And Huzska’s unconventional panel style works well to ensure that, despite the onslaught of words as Simon tells his tale of woe (and the utterly magnificent ‘joke’ he tells the truckers during his first steps as ‘Saint Chaos’), the pages never come away feeling crowded.
One thing that didn’t work for me was the font used for Honeycomb’s voice in issue one. I’m all for the unique approach, similar to the way the New 52 Joker’s speech is lettered, but I found the overly-elaborate font was quite difficult to read, which detracted a little from the character’s delicious dialogue. Thankfully though, this problem is remedied in the second issue, making the book much easier to digest.
The second issue adds another storyline thread as Monroe finds himself investigating the possibly suspicious circumstances surrounding his late mother’s murder. This adds a sense of urgency to the proceedings as his ‘Death Day’ looms ever closer, and should provide even more tension as the story builds to its conclusion.
As a mystery story, Saint Chaos does a crisp, efficient job, but the real strength of this title is in the horror elements; the bleak outlook of the main character, the utterly chilling actions and words of Honeycomb, the washed-out, disturbing visual style. That’s the book’s unique selling point, it’s ‘hook’, and it’s a damn good one.
This is a four-issue story that will linger in your memory long after you’ve read it (and not always in a comforting way), and which serves as a perfect showcase for the stunning abilities of both of its creators. Definitely worth checking out if you like horror, tension or horrific imagery.
You can pick yourself up copies of both issues, as well as check out previews and news on the project at the eR Studios website.
The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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