Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Goran Sudzuka
Colours: Ive Svorcina
Letterer: Rob Steen
Release Date: 16th May 2018
Do you like horror? Do you like Garth Ennis? Well buckle up, ‘cause you’re going to love this.
A Walk Through Hell begins with a bang and the typical in-your-face style that Ennis is renowned for. Opening with a young family strolling through what appears to be a crowded shopping mall at Christmas, there’s an uneasy sense that something is about to go terribly and, given the pedigree, gruesomely wrong. Over the joking chat of a woman asking whether setting up her father with her partner’s mother is a good idea, we are given some pretty grim exposition which builds to one seriously shocking splash page.
A second reading, which gives that “a-ha” realisation of exactly what is being said, still doesn’t lessen the impact. The expressions that Goran Sudzuka delivers, combined with Ive Svorcina’s colours, deliver a flash which burns the image into the reader’s consciousness, ensuring that will stay with you long after turning the page.
And this is maybe where some criticism can be levied at this type of work. There’s horror and then there’s horror. There’s the tense psychological tap tap at the back of your neck and then there are the schlocky gore filled slashers. The shock and brutality here isn’t gory though, thankfully we are spared some of the imagery letting our minds fill in the horrible void, but at first it felt like shock for the sake of a punch. That’s a wrong assumption though as it serves to knock us out of our comfort zone for what follows…
The immediate social media aftermath of the event at the mall is recounted in Twitter-like fashion, overlaid on the introduction of the two protagonists, FBI agents McGregor and Shaw. These status updates or comments would seem like some preachy social commentary if they didn’t come off so real. Every last one of them you could imagine on your Twitter feed (although other social media services are available).
With the work talk of the agents, which continues over a lunch with colleagues we are drawn further in to an almost banal world downplaying the events that just happened. Perhaps that’s truer than we care to think. Tragedy and personal horror befall individuals daily and are broadcast almost instantaneously around the globe. With so much going on, it’s like sensory overload where we become almost immune, or at least inured, to the real story, instead becoming caught up with soundbites and headlines.
This is all a distraction however which allows this issue to once again catch us off guard. To say the cliff-hanger here is frustrating would be a massive understatement. Our questions are left unanswered and the shift in story is simply amazing. The frustration then is intentional and the result of well-crafted work. Were the story and art not so captivating, one wouldn’t feel the need to take a breather after venting rage at having to wait a month before the next issue!
The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster