Review – The Woods #1 (BOOM! Studios)

BOOM! Studios
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Michael Dialynas
Release Date: 7th May 2014

If you follow Batman – and let’s face it, a good proportion of you will – you should be well aware of James Tynion IV’s voice in comics. From vaguely re-invigorating the Red Hood, getting us to sympathise with a Talon, and writing one of the best back-up Batman tales in a long while – Ghost Lights, in case you’re wondering – it’s clear that he has some talent, and this here is one of two attempts from him to break out of the Batman mould.

Telling the story of an American prep school that’s been transported to another world – not a spoiler, promise, we’re told as much in the first two pages – and quite how its students deal with this, there’s a lot of good stuff here. Tynion sees fit to play around with the traditional high-school tropes, retaining their personalities as he casts them in slightly different roles within a story that’s part Goonies, part Black Science, and part Buffy the Vampire Slayer, pressed through the spectrum of comedy-horror sensibilities. Dialynas’ art is solid and nails the dynamism of the story well – though it does lack a truly creepy edge that’d give you the chills looking at the horror orientated aspects.

Overall, however, it just feels a little spread thin – this first issue encompasses 25 minutes of in-universe time, and takes even less than that to read. This is in part down to surprisingly good pacing, both in the story beats themselves, and in the sharp dialogue – but whilst the school ostensibly moves billions of miles, it doesn’t really feel like the story has made any progress, the final page no further along than the first. I suppose this must have a lot to do with the fact that the premise is so intriguing – the wonderful opening page is bold as hell, and it follows it up by meandering a bit, which is somewhat frustrating.

There’s certainly potential here – past precedent shows that Tynion can knock out some terrific stories, and there’s nothing blocking this from becoming a great series, but there’s also nothing herein that convinces me it’s anything other than a gamble at this stage. I’ll be happy to be proven wrong, and to see the score below tick up at least one notch, but for now, it’s maybe just one to keep an eye on.

Rating: 3/5 

The writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24

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