Review – Night of the Ghoul #1 (Dark Horse Comics)

Publisher: ComiXology Originals
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Francesco Francavilla
Letterer: AndWorld Design
Release Date: 4th October 2022

Writer and director T.F. Merritt’s Night of the Ghoul was destined to become an all-time horror classic. Unfortunately, the movie never made it to the screen due to an unexplained wrap party fire which destroyed the footage, killing all of the cast and crew in the process. Now it lives on as an urban legend. An unsettling tale of what might have been, and something of a personal Holy Grail for obsessed horror movie fan Forest Inman, who believes that Merritt is still alive and well and wants to track him down to discover the real story behind the ill-fated film. Armed with a recently discovered canister of footage, Inman’s investigation leads him down a dark rabbit hole where he discovers that rather than simply being an inspired silver screen creation, the Ghoul is actually very, very real.

The latest of Scott Snyder’s creator-owned ComiXology Originals titles to get the print publication treatment, this time courtesy of the fine folks at Dark Horse Comics, Night of the Ghoul is a tightly structured horror tale that will keep you thoroughly entertained all the way through this fifty-four page, two-part opening issue.

The fact that it’s also illustrated by iconic artist Francesco Francavilla is merely the cherry on the sundae, and as with the vast majority of Snyder’s creator-owned output, the Italian artist feels like the absolute perfect fit for the story being told.

I love that Snyder always finds creative new ways to tell his stories, and this multi-layered approach – with Merritt recounting the story that led to the titular movie being made, all while new levels of horror continue to unfold in the present day –  keeps things interesting and suitably dynamic throughout.

The World War 1 flashback sequences are delivered with a real visual flair by Francavilla, who utilises a striking monochrome palette and includes damaged ‘film reel’ style bookends to each section of recovered footage. The colour work is also quintissential Francavilla, with liberal use of blues, oranges and yellows throughout and some cracking use of light shadow to help enhance the already tense mood.

There are some beautifully crafted horror set-pieces along the way, including one particular sequence with Inman’s son that really gets the juices flowing, and a stomach-churning final page cliffhanger. The whole thing whips along at a surprisingly brisk pace too, as Merritt recounts the events that led to the Ghoul being brought back to the States and its horrifyingly parasitic nature.

Being able to deliver a genuinely engaging horror comic is a real accomplishment, but doing so without utilising unnecessary gore or schlock is even more impressive. Snyder and Francavilla are a dream creative partnership for a pot of people, myself included, and watching them work together seamlessly to bring the chilling tale of the Ghoul to life is a real treat. An impeccably crafted, genuinely unsettling horror tale packed with depth, twists and real narrative depth. Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.5/5.


The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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