Writer: John Lees
Artist: Alex Cormack
Colours: Alex and Ashley Cormack
Letters: Shawn Lee
Release Date: 12th December 2018
After an absolutely stellar first volume, it’s time to venture back into Skinhill, the terrifying and thankfully fictional suburb of Glasgow. And right from the get-go, it’s clear that writer John Lees and artist Alex Cormack are pulling absolutely no punches in ramping up the horror to deeply uncomfortable levels here.
Told in an almost entirely wordless style, the issue, entitled “Death and the Midden”, tracks an unfortunate young nurse who awakens to find herself trapped in the back of one of the menacing blue vans that have been lurking on the periphery of most of the previous issues. Not only that, but she has awoken right in the middle of having her face sliced open into a grotesque approximation of a smile and having a nail-studded red nose violently attached to her face by a trio of cackling Killer Clowns.
Yeah, like I said, Lees and Cormack definitely aren’t messing around here.
The remainder of the issue is devoted to a dizzying, claustrophobic and deeply uncomfortable scramble for survival as our terrified leading lady tries to stay one step ahead of the Clowns, finally tapping into something deeply primal within herself in order to survive.
It’s certainly an attention-grabbing choice, but it does seem to lack some of the nuance of previous SINK issues – until the final pages, at least. Cormack is clearly tapping into something fairly primal himself with some disturbingly visceral moments along the way, and while he does a great job of using jarring perspective and crowded panels and gutters to convey the confused terror of the woman herself, some of the latter pages see his usually scratchy, energetic linework being drowned out by what is a fairly over-the-top explosion of crimson.
For my tastes, it veers a little too steeply into the realms of “torture porn” at times, with the nameless woman being forced to endure (and inflict) more and more gruesome and painful horrors in her desperate attempt to escape her cackling pursuers. Seriously, I may never look at a stapler the same way again.
That said, and as I mentioned above, the final pages add a brilliant sting to the proceedings that I definitely didn’t see coming, but which definitely fits the story perfectly, and we get a brief taste of the kind of subtext and creativity that has become synonymous with Lees’ writing over the last few years.
At the end of the day, if you’re looking for a relentless, gory and increasingly disturbing chase sequence with a terrified woman being hounded by deranged Clowns, this is most definitely the comic for you. It’s certainly a memorable read, and the events of this comic will likely stay with you long after you’ve put it down. I’m just not necessarily sure that they’ll be doing so for all the right reasons.
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