Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: J.B. Bastos
Release Date: 1st June, 2016
If there are three words guaranteed to make me want to check out a new comic, it’s “Cullen Bunn” and “Horror”. And that’s exactly what lured me towards Night Trap, a brand new horror series on sale this week from Lion Forge Comics. And no, before we start, it isn’t based on that god-awful Sega Mega-CD “interactive movie” video game where you could flick between grainy cameras trying to stop sorority girls being nabbed by weirdos (or, watching sorority girls being nabbed by weirdos, depending on your inclination).
Instead, from outward (and indeed inward) appearances, this would appear to a fairly earnest slasher movie homage. All the key ingredients are present; a run-down cabin in the woods,; a group of young, dumb and beautiful co-eds; a demented backwoods killer and his twisted family; and a strong, wilful female lead who seems to be ‘above’ all the sex and partying. Seriously, this is “Slasher Movie 101” right here, folks.
“Okay”, I’m thinking to myself. “This is 2016 after all. Movies like Scream and Cabin in the Woods have happened, so surely there’s going to be some sort of creative take on the genre to keep things interesting”. Well, as it turns out, there isn’t. At least not yet, anyway. Sadly, it all feels a little derivative and uninspired to this point. While the solicitation blub hints at an exciting twist to come, it would perhaps have been nice to see that touched upon here, if not fully revealed. Instead, what we have is an admirable but ultimately dull slasher story made up of a brief introduction to the villain followed by a “getting to know you” section with the impossibly beautiful teens and, of course, a shockingly gruesome final page.
Visually, J.B. Bastos does a solid enough job of creating the superficial, Barbie and Ken-style teens, although his finest work is confined to the first and last few pages. There’s a sense of uniformity to his characters that could very well be intentional given the nature of the ‘homage’, but which is a little distracting when trying to keep track of who the interchangeable soon-to-be-victims are. The final page is satisfyingly schlocky, but the best moments of the issue by far is the opening sequence and the glimpse at what lies beneath the murky water. Great stuff, and something I hope to see a lot more of in the series to come.
Okay, so while this isn’t exactly a first issue that’s going to set the world on fire, it’s Cullen Bunn for god’s sake, so I know there has to be more to the story than this. As I said, the solicitation blurb gives me hope for the series as it moves forwards, but unfortunately I’m not reviewing the blurb, I’m reviewing the first issue, and as it stands, this is currently little more than a bland, generic and ultimately unengaging slasher yarn. In fact, the only thing keeping me holding on at this point is the unquestioned horror pedigree of its writer. Fingers crossed for issue two, then.
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