‘Tis the Halloween season and once again I get the opportunity to showcase some of my favourite comics of the year from my favourite genre. Allow me then, to guide you through my personal top 5 horror series of 2019.
1.) SINK (ComixTribe, continuing)
Without doubt my favourite series of the year, and the best horror comic I’ve read in decades. Sink is a gritty, terrifying, urban horror/thriller series set in a dark, violent, suburb of Glasgow known as Sinkhill. This is a place spoken of in hushed and terrified whispers, a place you don’t want to find yourself alone, especially after dark. Whether it’s the army of Murder Clowns cruising the streets in their trademark blue vans or the roving gangs of Dickheads, desperate to commit any atrocity in order to become made men in Si McKirdie’s criminal empire, the brutal, bloodied shovel wielding, Fox mask wearing, vigilante known as Mr. Dig; or any of the dozens of other sinister denizens of Sink Hill, there is something to churn the guts of even the most hardened horror fan within these pages.
As a <cough> 40 year <cough> reader of horror comics I have never been so enthusiastic about recommending a series to anyone as I have been with Sink. John Lees is easily one of the most talented thriller/horror writers I’ve come across, period, and Alex Cormack’s art is possibly the most beautifully disturbing work I’ve ever seen, the man is an absolute beast. If you’ve never picked up a copy grab any issue, whilst there are threads connecting all the stories in the series, they can all be treated as individual stories making them easy to jump into at any point.
2.) Road of Bones (IDW Publishing)
When Roman Ivanovich Mozorov finds himself in a Siberian Gulag, working on the infamous Road of Bones, he will do anything to escape the reality of his situation. When he’s caught leaving much needed provisions out as an offering to a Domovik, a mythical, supernatural creature, his situation goes from horrific to hellish and he flees the camp along with two other inmates, Sergei and Grigori, to make the long trek to freedom through the bleak and murderous Siberian landscape. What should Roman fear most though, his environment, his companions, the Domovik, or his own personal demons?
Road of Bones is, for me, a perfect isolation thriller/horror series that slowly builds a feeling of tension, dread, and claustrophobia, panel after panel, all the way to the end. Rich Douek has been a new discovery for me this year and I can honestly say that I’ve been blown away by just how good his writing is. This is a relatively short series at just four issues, but I was gripped from start to finish in a story that is as terrifying for what is not on the page as what is. The final payoff in this series is glorious. I won’t lie, I had an inkling where we were headed but the denouement fat surpassed even what I was expecting giving us a final panel that will chill you to the bone.
3.) Immortal Hulk (Marvel, continuing)
Bruce Banner is dead, long live The Hulk! A gas station robbery goes horribly wrong and amongst the dead are a young girl named Sandy Brockhurst and one Bruce Banner. That night something gets up from the slab but it isn’t Banner and it’s very, very angry!
I’ve never been a regular reader of Marvel’s publications, but the last couple of years has gotten me really excited about the Marvel universe again. King’s VISION, was the first Marvel book I’d read in decades (and don’t let anyone tell you that isn’t a horror story), which brought me to the incredible work Donny Cates has been doing on Doctor Strange, Venom & Cosmic Ghost Rider and finally, to Immortal Hulk. Al Ewing and Joe Bennet deliver us a Hulk story in the genre I’ve always felt he should be in. Make no mistake, this is a horror story to its core and the Hulk has never been more terrifying than he is here.
This is the Hulk that I think we’d have got if Moore and Bissette had been given this instead of Swamp Thing to revive. This is The Hulk with all the brakes off, and no matter what you throw at him, the best you can hope for is to slow him down! This is a Hulk that is horrifying, and fractured and insane and his journey could well be the end of us all.
4.) These Savage Shores (Vault Comics)
Set in 18th Century India, These Savage Shores is an epic story of the mythology of India, mixed with the vampire legends of Europe and set during the Anglo-Mysore Wars. Focusing on the trials of the demon Bishan and his mortal lover Kori, this series is horrifying, heart-breaking, beautiful and heart-warming all at the same time.
In something of a diversion from my usually more chilling and disturbing horror fare, Ram V has, for me, written one of the most incredible epic, Gothic Horror stories I’ve read; in a series that is so complex and detailed, that you’d expect it to be a full blown novel rather than a five issue comic run. This is also coupled with some visually stunning artwork from Summit Kumar and Vittorio Astone that, whether it is depicting scenes of horror or the tenderest moment, are truly beautiful to behold.
This is a series that has been perfection from start to finish and it’s a world I’d love to see expanded, there’s so much back story that we could still discover and so many more adventures that could be had for protagonist and antagonist alike.
5.) Gideon Falls (Image Comics, continuing)
A washed up priest arrives in the small rural town of Gideon Falls. Sent as a replacement, after the mysterious death of his predecessor, father Wilfred soon discovers that something very, very strange is happening in this quiet little burg. Elsewhere, Norton Sinclair, a supposedly mentally unstable young man, searches for clues in the city’s trash, convinced that there is something sinister at work against him. What connects these two men is a mysterious black barn that has been part of the legends of Gideon Falls for over a century, appearing at random and leaving death, disappearances and riddles in its wake.
A Lovecraftian horror thriller of the first order, Gideon Falls burst onto the scene in 2018 with one of the most satisfyingly frustrating plots you’re ever likely to read. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on what’s going on, things go sideways and nothing is what you thought it was. For me, this series manages to handle all of the prerequisites of Lovecraftian horror beautifully. That slow, insidious creep of dread and cosmic horrors, bone chilling creatures from another dimension, conspiracies crossing space and time and that constant need to question reality.
Seventeen issues in, this is a series that continues to go from strength to strength and Lemire, Sorrentino and Stewart are, in my humble opinion, destined to leave us with a story that will be talked about for decades to come.
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek