Publisher: Image Comics
Writers: David & Maria Lapham, Steve Foxe
Artwork: David Lapham, Erica Henderson
Colours: Trish Mulvihill
Release Date: 26th October 2022
Relying upon their readers’ imagination to conjure up the nightmarish horror which so suddenly causes young Daphne to stop playing under her back garden’s impressively large old oak, David and Maria Lapham’s rather violent “tale of a tree whose roots grew so deep they reached Hell” doesn’t really make an awful lot of sense. Sure, it’s clear that the child’s “favourite place” has somehow been transformed into a malignant force for evil, and disconcertingly has the ability to detrimentally influence those people unlucky enough to fall under its mesmeric spell. But just how the tree is able to make the girl cold-bloodedly murder both her parents and the visiting Kumars before disappearing down a hole in its trunk is anybody’s guess. As is the plant’s disconcerting ability to talk and suddenly infest its owner’s house with all manner of chattering insects.
Likewise, David Lapham’s artwork is arguably a little too clean to successfully conjure up the increasingly dark atmosphere this ten-page tale needs to generate. The American cartoonist can clearly proficiently pencil a story, yet with the exception of the gnarly titular antagonist, everything else is rather stiff-looking – even when Daphne is busy chopping her neighbours into “tiny bits” with an axe so she can use their “mush” as fertilizer.
Perhaps slightly more successful is Steve Foxe’s “Creator’s Rites”, which dips its toe into the thorny waters of elder abuse by so-called professionals and, whether intentionally or not, will doubtless cause some within its audience to draw parallels between the plight of supposedly penniless Sal Medina and the late, great Stan Lee. Indeed, Erica Henderson’s depiction of Infra Red’s geriatric creator even physically resembles the Jack Kirby Hall of Famer with his white hair, glasses and cardigan-covered open-necked shirt; “F*ck the movies! I don’t get one shining cent from those pieces of sh*t!”
Sadly however, Bill’s uninspiring attempt to steal his patient’s generous court settlement whilst wearing a cartoon mask isn’t scary in any shape or form, as nothing even remotely supernatural occurs. Instead, this narrative provides an intriguing insight into the addled mind of an imaginative pensioner, whose comic book creations simply help stir his aging frame into one last moment of tangible activity so as to save the day… Or at least deliver upon the man’s untrustworthy home aide a rather grisly just dessert.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]