Review – The Gravediggers Union #1 (Image Comics)

Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Wes Craig
Artwork: Wes Craig, Toby Cypress
Colourist: Niko Guardia
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Release Date: 1st November 2017

Wes Craig’s new series opens with five pages of his own incredible art. Beginning its story in the past, when Man was just the ape, we see that in the world of The Gravediggers Union, the supernatural has been with humanity since the start. Terrifying, towering beasts rule the earth; beasts so immense and beautifully horrifying that calling them simply ‘Lovecraftian’ would be a disservice.

As Toby Cypress’s art enters in the pages following, we shift to the present day, where the more garden variety supernatural being now terrorize humanity. Snippets of the news and a character’s narration introduce us to the world as it is now, where supernatural attacks are becoming more and more frequent. The Gravediggers Union – the world’s monster-hunting organization dedicated to protecting humanity – tells the world that everything is under control. But our narrator lets the reader know the truth; the world is going to shit and the Gravediggers Union simply can’t keep up.

It’s this incredible, unobtrusive world-building by Craig that draws you into this story; that lets you know exactly why this series is going to stand out amongst the millions of other supernatural stories on the shelves today.

Past its introduction, the story of Gravediggers Union #1 follows protagonist Cole who, after an intensive fight against a horde of zombies and more powerful ghouls that nearly takes out their entire team, decides enough is enough. Zombies are talking, spooky medallions are being left behind, Armageddon is coming and the Gravediggers Union isn’t able to keep up with every new incident that happens. Something more needs to be done, and Cole and his partners are finally willing to step outside of the union rules to try and figure out what to do to save the world…

The quality of Craig’s writing remains strong throughout, keeping the exposition as little and as unforced as it is during the opening. This story is told through its characters, all of whom are established well, and with some classic character tropes, make themselves accessible and interesting from the get-go. Dialogue is equally as fluent and engaging; never feeling excessive or overly ham-fisted from Craig who is fairly new to the writing game. It’s great stuff.

However, the real star of this show is the art. Craig’s own immaculate pencils need no more gushing from me, leading the focus onto Cypress and Niko Guardia’s perfect mesh of art and colour in the other 85% of the issue. The goods that gives Gravediggers Union its polish and shine.

Cypress’s art is detailed and expressive, with every character design and part of the world feel unique and stylistically his. Zombies and the ‘Junk Golem’ are immaculately designed and are utterly terrifying to see assault the protagonists, and it’s deliciously horrifying to see them be decapitated by shovel or pitchfork. That first fight scene in the issue shows his polish and cartooning as characters face off against the supernatural with impeccable attention to detail and movement.

Gaurdia’s colours then gives the final layer of artistry to the issue, with her dark, dulled colours and obscuring, sometimes overpowering lighting effect giving this ghoulish world its cold, dead and dying aesthetic.

The Gravediggers Union #1 could easily have become just another by-the-numbers monster-hunting book. While still ostensibly an establishing issue, the world-building and uniqueness of the story being built, Craig’s and Cypress’s pencils and Guardia’s colours make this a memorable debut that may just blossom into one of the finest supernatural horror comics to hit the shelves. Plus, how can you possibly go wrong with 40 pages of comics for just $3.99?

Rating: 4.5/5

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The writer of this piece was: Connor Stephens

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