Writers: Brandon Cronenberg, Steven Kotanski, Jon Knautz, Dave Alexander
Artists: Matthew Thierren, Andrew Barr, Shira Haberman
Release Date: On sale NOW!
There was a time, long ago now, where I might’ve opened this review with words to the effect of ‘horror in comics is haaaaard’. But we’re in the now, now – it’s not then, it’s now! – and we’ve had so very many horror comics proving that statement wrong – And Then Emily Was Gone, Colder, Grindhouse: Drive In Bleed Out, countless others – that we’ll just dive right in and find out if this one works.
The result of a Kickstarter campaign from artist Matthew Thierren, this here is an anthology series that – at least in this first issue – features four horror shorts from each of the above-noted writers. And indeed, where else but Kickstarter could we possibly have gotten a fix like this? It’s not a comment on the quality of any of the stories to say that not a one of could’ve found their feet as a fully-fledged issue – but as part of an anthology? Hell, and indeed, yes.
The absolute gem of the issue is Cronenberg’s ‘Death in Li Tolqa’, perfectly dancing along the line of ‘just enough said’ to create a wonderfully unsettling tale that’ll have you poring over the pages on repeat. Kotanski’s ‘Re-Phase Malfunction’ is an impactful morality fable – just because you can, doesn’t mean you should – but it doesn’t quite have the same re-readability. Both benefit from Thierren’s expertly crafted visuals, particularly the form, which features some spectacular layouts that capitilise on Cronenberg’s narrative implications beautifully.
Alexander’s ‘The Cowboy Underground’ is perhaps the weakest of the bunch, and would’ve benefitted from a little more context – either to provide a touch of irony, or indeed a mote of closure. It lacks both, and whilst the idea of it is fundamentally unsettling, it doesn’t leave any particular impression after it’s over.
The odd one out is Knautz’s ‘Darrell and Lenny’ – featuring art from guest artist Andrew Barr. The change in art styles from a sombre, realistic tone to something rather more cartoony is a bit jarring – despite some beautifully disturbing imagery being thrown in – and whilst the story’s message is clear, it lacks the subtle, creeping nature of Cronenberg and Kotanski’s enries.
Overall, however, based on the two stronger entries, I’m excited to see what’s in store for us in future issues. A surprising and unsettling anthology, it’s certainly worth throwing a few bones at.
You can pick up the first issue of Gates of Misery from the official GoM online store.
The Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24