Publisher: DC (Hill House Comics Imprint)
Writer: Joe Hill
Colours: Dave Stewart
Lettering: Deron Bennett
Release Date: 22nd January 2020
June Branch continues on her quest to save her boyfriend Liam, mystical axe in one hand and a basket looking for more heads in the other. More in need of help than ever, June heads to the police station looking for Chief Clausen, but instead finds further betrayal and another piece of the puzzle.
I have to be honest, I’m not quite as taken with this issue as I have been with the previous instalments in this series. Yes, the writing is still excellent, and yes, I still love the artwork but, I felt this issue didn’t really bring enough new to the story, particularly given that it’s such a short series. Don’t get me wrong, I love this series. I’ve been a huge advocate of everything that Hill House Comics have produced so far, and this isn’t a bad issue by any standards. We did find out some quite important things, but it just felt like it took too long to tell them.
Unlike, for example, Locke & Key which was thirty-seven issues, this series is only seven issues long and every page counts, so it’s frustrating to get an issue that for the most part, felt like it was treading water. As I said, what we did discover was actually pretty important and I actually missed it the first time I read through this issue and then kicked myself really hard, because it really changes the dynamic of what’s going on.
There is still a lot to uncover in this series, and while this issue has shifted the focus of who may be friend and who may be foe, there are still a lot of unanswered questions. Where is Liam, and is he really in danger? What is the mystical power behind the axe June is carrying, and what will the ultimate cost to her be of wielding it? Oh, and is there anyone out there who June can trust?
Okay, so while I might have problems with the pacing of this issue, they’re all based around the length of the series and not the quality of the writing or artwork. Joe Hill is a superb comic writer. Yes, he’s written some fantastic novels but I think that this is the medium that really suits his talents the best, and it’s a medium that I look forward to seeing more of his work in in the future.
I have absolutely nothing to criticise with the artwork and I’m unashamedly wallowing in the pure ‘80s nostalgia that Leomacs infuses each page with. Leomacs has, for me, perfectly captured the atmosphere and heart of Hill’s writing, and there are some moments in this issue that are nothing short of brilliant. It’s great to see June’s rollercoaster of emotions changing panel by panel, with disbelief, grief, hysteria, and anger all cycling and mixing as she tries to make sense of what’s going on. Leomacs makes these things believable on the page where they could potentially seem farcically quick, and given that we all know how fast our emotions can change under pressure, it feels much more believable, much more real.
If this series goes the way I think it’s going then we’re in for a real whirlwind in the next few issues, resulting in a hell of a ride that you do not want to miss.
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek