Review – The Strain #1 (#1 for $1 Edition) (Dark Horse)

25861Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: David Lapham
Artist: Mike Huddleston
Release Date: 18th June 2014

Horror comics are something of a mixed bag at present – it very much takes the right artist, with the right writer, to actually elicit proper scares from a comic book, primarily because the medium by its simple virtues removes the ability to create the so-called ‘jump scare’ that motion pictures can elicit, as well as being in the slightly untoward position of being unable to leave much to the reader’s imagination. Horror in comics is stuck in the precise limbo between these two ends of the spectrum, and it takes something properly special to make a good one.

Re-releasing one of the better ones just in time for the opening of the television adaptation, therefore, is something of a sly move in an under-crowded market, and it’s not to its detriment, given that it’s the brainchild of Guillermo Del Toro, as adapted by the ever-precise David Lapham. The set-up is pretty exceptional, with well thought-out characters and a premise that takes its time getting to where it’s going.

The art from Mike Huddleston is pretty terrific – capturing an air of not-quite-right that’s very much in keeping with Del Toro’s own directorial style. We don’t get any glimpses of the monsters themselves in this first issue, but having done my own research into the matter, I can assure you that Huddleston is more than up to the task when the time comes.

However, there’s very likely better value to be had elsewhere for this series – the collected editions are out there both in print and digital, as are the individual issues, and whilst it’s certainly a series that’s worth getting in to, whether or not this particular edition should be your entry point is something of a dubious question. Still, as far as horror comics go, you can do infinitely worse than the strain, and it genuinely heads somewhere interesting come crunch time, so this is as good a moment to start on it as any.

Rating: 4/5.

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

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