Advance Review – Hotell #3 (AWA Studios)

Publisher: AWA Studios
Writer: John Lees
Artist: Dalibor Talajić
Colours: Lee Loughridge
Lettering: Sal Cipriano
Release Date: 22nd July 2020

Kristen Clements is an investigative journalist, purportedly researching one of America’s most notorious serial killers Wilbur Finch, who suddenly vanished after one of his last victims escaped. Kristen’s interview of the survivor sends her off on a search for the last place Finch was seen. Yup, you’ve guessed it – The Pierrot Courts Hotel.

After years of searching, and finding herself on her knees by the side of the road screaming in desperation, she suddenly sees the warm and welcoming sign, “Hotel – Next Right.” If she has any sense Kristen would have got back in her car and driven off in the opposite direction but then again, she does has other motives for finding the Pierrot Court Hotel than just her story, and the hotel does have a way of collecting lost souls.

God dammit, I’m not sure I can take much more of this. Issue three of Hotell dials up the horror yet another notch as John Lees et al deliver a tale of dismemberment, body horror, claustrophobia, ghosts, torture and pure nerve wrenching, heart stopping terror.

By now you must have observed that I personally find John Lees to be a thoroughly nice bloke. Kind, considerate… you know, that one friend you had at school that your mum always liked more than you. But inside that head of his are thoughts that would make Junji Ito shake his head and say “too far dude, too far!”

This issue is just something else, and covers a number of sub genres of horror that leaves the reader completely off balance. Just as you think you’ve got a handle on where this issue is going, Lees takes a hard swerve and honestly, by the end of issue three, I’m not sure my nerves could take much more!

I am going to have to forego my usual format for laying out reviews because I’m pretty sure that anything I give in terms of detail is going to completely and utterly spoil your experience of this story. What I can tell you is that this issue does again tie directly into the previous chapters, it does explain some of the strange occurrences that have plagued the other residents we’ve been introduced to, and there’s a reasonable chance that this issue will give you nightmares.

One more thing about this issue’s plot; there will, I guarantee, be moments when you are screaming at the page “Just get the hell out of there! No, don’t go in there! No, don’t follow that scary dark tunnel!”, but you know they’re going to, and you know you’re going to follow them because that is one of John Lees’ great talents; making you willingly go down a rabbit hole that you know you really shouldn’t.

Of course the job of realising Lees’ twisted and fevered imaginings once again falls to Dalibor Talajić and Lee Loughridge, and once again they deliver in spades. The tension in this issue is truly palpable, you can almost taste it, and the artwork Talajić and Loughridge provide sears your nerve endings.

There are some truly horrific beats in this issue and some moments of pure brilliance in the way these scenes and imagery are depicted. I’m old and jaded and it takes a lot for a horror title to get under my skin these days, but this issue definitely managed to do just that, and I’m genuinely not sure how they’re going to top this for the final issue.

One issue left to go and still so many unanswered questions, the wait for the finale is going to be pure torture!

Rating: 5/5.

The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek ‏

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