Publisher: IDW Publishing:
Writer: James Tynion IV
Art: Jeremy Rock
Release Date: 9th December, 2015
The Eighth Seal is good. It’s no surprise, with James Tynion IV at the helm you can always expect solid writing. Originally it began life as a webcomic on Mark Waid’s digital comic publisher Thrillbent, and IDW Publishing are now bringing it a bigger audience via print press.
I did not envisage was how quick I was absorbed into the story. When done well, I enjoy political thrillers. All the President’s Men, The Mancurian Candidate and The West Wing, to name a few. Tynion IV has taken aspects of these series and mixed them with Horror. There is a lot going on in the pages of the first issue.
The story centres around the first lady. We’re introduced to her as she is speaking to her Psychiatrist. We learn she has been having visions; visions paired with blackouts and fainting. During this time, she turns into a demon-like being and kills indiscriminately. In this most recent case she slaughtered a class of schoolchildren she was reading to. Just as you start to sympathise, she admits that part of her likes it. Rendering flesh as she murdered children was, in her own words, exquisite. The realisation of this and the admission only adds to her feelings of guilt. Also, it seems the Doctor isn’t quite as shocked as he should be about these revelations…
Yet, this isn’t only a horror story, it’s a horror story set in the White House. Added into the mix are The President, his Chief of Staff, and The First Lady’s Chief of Staff. All worry about the public portrayal of The First Lady. The President is concerned for his wife, his Chief of Staff the public image of the President. He also has no faith in his counterpart in the Office of the First Lady. All are approaching the public fainting episodes from opposing angles, and none agree.
It’s a solid start, the writing is good. This is the first original story James wrote outside his DC gig on Batman and Talon, so it’s no surprise that he is now more in demand and went on to helm four original stories in 2014 for BOOM and one for IDW. The art by Jeremy Rock is clean and crisp and very much reminds me of Dave Gibbons in style. I especially like the mirrored panels showing The First Lady and her Demonic self as reflections of each other. The colours by Nolan Woodard are an excellent foil for Rock’s clean approach. It’s tonal in character, with a matt effect, but subtle. The colour changes between light and shadow are so slight you almost don’t see it.
All things considered, issue one of The Eighth Seal is a solid start. We know this will be a body horror story dropped into a politically charged backstory. The title of the book hints towards the end of times. While not all motives are that clear in the opening issue, there is enough to make the reader want to continue.
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The writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @Jockdoom.