Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artwork: Goran Sudžuka
Colors: Ive Svorcina
Lettering: Rob Steen
Release Date: 24th July 2019
Shaw and Carnahan. Last woman standing and literal Antichrist. No more tricks, no more atrocities to torture her with, this is the moment where the true nature of Carnahan’s horrifying plans are finally revealed. And it turns out that these are not plans wrought purely out of revenge for Shaw’s actions, but she is merely the key to enabling a plan over two thousand years in the making.
I seem to be reading a lot of endings at the moment, and issue twelve of A Walk Through Hell is no exception, bringing to a close a story I have been following avidly for over a year. I have, for the most part, sung the praises of this series. Sure, there may have been the odd moment that hasn’t really clicked for me, but when it has worked it’s been an incredible ride.
Throughout the course of the series there has been some excellent horror imagery and moments that are truly disturbing. A mixture of Carpenter and Cronenberg in style, married to a gripping slow burn thriller that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. The payoff for this series is pure Carpenter, with Shaw’s final punishment being that she will live to see what is to come. Whilst this ending is very much in the model of a Carpenter story, there is also a nod to Stephen King’s Dead Zone.
On a purely superficial level, Garth Ennis’ conclusion to this series could seem to be quite pedestrian compared to the horrors we’ve been subjected to so far in Carnahan’s maze. However, the ending is far more horrific than anything we’ve seen so far. The horrors of what people can (and regularly do) subject each other to far outweighs any Eldritch horrors that we might face. Ultimately, in Ennis’ vision, this is how the world will end. We will become so inured to each atrocity that we will stop being human and Evil will triumph. And that’s the really horror of this series, because it is not a farfetched ending. I mean, take a look outside at the global sociopolitical climate and it’s a stark reality of how we live today.
That said, and speaking as a huge fan of this series, I do feel slightly let down by this issue. I’ve said that there are more than a few John Carpenter references, and there are, but there are also a couple of scenes lifted straight from At The Mouth of Madness and one that is straight out of the finale of Prince of Darkness with no effort to disguise them. Visually there’s a particular scene that could easily be from At the Mouth of Madness or The Thing. The final dialogue between Shaw and McGregor is straight out of Stephen King’s The Dead Zone. While all of these scripts/books are superb in their own way, I can’t help but feel a little cheated. The originality that first drew me to the series has been tainted, and while the ending is still great, I’m disappointed that Ennis didn’t finish it in his own style.
Goran Sudžuka’s art is top notch as always and delivers the tone and feel of the narrative with great effect, although I feel that the limitations of the last few issues has resulted in a very ‘samey’ feel which detracts from how good the art really is.
Overall, as a twelve issue series this is a great story, albeit one that sadly missed the mark with the finale for me.
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek