Publisher: Image Comics
Writer/Artist: Mirka Andolfo
Colour Assists: Gianluca Papi
Letterer: Fabio Amelia
Release Date: 4th March 2020
The mining village of Woodsburgh, WA only barely managed to overcome a spate of seemingly supernatural murders, with a small pocket of survivors effectively saving the entire village by blowing up the mine with both themselves and their seemingly supernatural assailants inside. Time has passed but the scars clearly remain, and the arrival of mysterious woman in black Lady Hellaine promises to turn this grieving community – already crammed with its own secrets and agendas – into a veritable powderkeg.
With a stellar run on UNNATURAL already under her belt, Italian cartoonist Mirka Andolfo wastes little time in launching headlong into this new series. It’s a strong start, with a frenetic flashback opening followed by a jump to the present day and a gradual introduction to the inhabitants of Woodsburgh. As I mentioned, there are plenty of secrets being kept, including by mine survivor and mother Lady Swanson, and we get to meet a few of the town’s more interesting residents, including precocious orphaned youngster Rory, along the way.
Visually, this is every bit as stunning as we should all come to expect by now from Andolfo, with a richness of colour and a soft expressiveness that really helps to accentuate both the supernatural and horrific beats of the story. Granted, we haven’t really seen much of the promised sensuality yet – with the exception of one decidedly unromantic sex scene – but knowing Mirka’s track record it definitely won’t be far away.
The final pages lay things out rather clearly, with Hellaine’s true nature and provenance staring us directly in the face, and offer up a tremendous amount of intriguing possibilities for this series as it progresses. Sure, the individual parts of the story themselves perhaps aren’t particularly ground-breaking or original in isolation, but the way Andolfo elegantly weaves them all together makes for a thoroughly enjoyable read.
At the end of the day, there are more than enough intriguing beats here for Andolfo’s story to sink its claws into me, and while there are definitely a variety of different directions the narrative could be taken from here, at this point, pretty much any of them are appealing enough to make me stick with this series moving forwards. Definitely well worth a look, and absolutely essential reading if you’re a fan of Andolfo’s previous work.