“The dead rats danced the day the hired man came around.”
‘The Remains’ is a brand new creator-owned horror from writer Cullen Bunn [Venom, Magneto, Night of the Living Deadpool], released digitally through ComiXology by MonkeyBrain Comics. And, I have to say, it’s pretty damn good.
The story revolves around two sisters, Birdie (the eldest) and Abigail (the youngest) who live on a failing farm along with their parents. Their mother is several months pregnant and their father suffers from crippling rheumatism. One day, a drifter shows up looking for work, and their father – somewhat reluctantly – agrees to give him a job. And from there, things begin to take a somewhat disturbing turn, to say the least.
Bunn does an absolutely astounding job here of ramping up the tension throughout the first issue. The story is narrated in the past-tense by Birdie as she recalls the early moments of the horrific events to come, and there’s a growing sense of unease throughout the book as we find ourselves waiting with baited breath to find our just what’s going to happen.
The menacing, lurking threat of the aforementioned Cole Jensen is skilfully handled as we see him first as a dishevelled ‘scarecrow’ on the distant horizon before finally getting a truly disturbing close-up look that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about the character. Birdie’s recollections here add immeasurably to the growing tension, as she describes Cole’s eyes “touching her”, and his gaze “making her skin crawl”.
Without delving into the realm of spoilers, the final few pages of the book bring the true horror of the situation sharply into focus in about as visceral, terrifying a way as you could possibly imagine. However, the shocking revelation offers up far more questions than answers, somehow managing to add even more to the sense of creeping confusion that permeates pretty much every page of this issue.
The artwork is provided by the husband and wife team of Carlos and A.C. Zamudio, and matches up perfectly with the dark, foreboding tale that Bunn has created. Characters look sufficiently weary, and facial expressions are subtly recreated, with – once again – Cole Jensen being a definite highlight with the fleeting glimpses we are given of his true nature. And in the barn scene that wraps up this issue, Carlos’ layouts truly come into their own with some fantastic splash pages which are complimented beautifully by the flashes of crimson that stand out on A.C.’s otherwise muted palette.
It’s always a pleasure to see writers cut loose with their own creator-owned projects, and that’s something Bunn is clearly doing here, creating a dark, sinister world filled with compelling and – in the case of Cole Jensen – truly unsettling protagonists. With an endless stream of “issue ones” flooding our way on a daily basis, it’s important for a new title to grab my attention from the get-go, and give me a reason to keep reading. The Remains managed to do both these things effortlessly, immediately sucking me into a world of mystery, tension and horror. Highly recommended.
‘The Remains’ can be purchased on ComiXology right now, priced just $0.99 (or 69p in real money).
The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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