Review – Breath of Shadows #1 (IDW Publishing)

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Rich Douek
Artist: Alex Cormack
Letterer: Justin Birch
Release Date: 25th January 2023

Jimmy Meadows should be at the top of his game and living his best life. It’s the 60s, Jimmy’s last album just went gold, and he has the world at his feet. He also has a monkey on his back, and he’s about to lose everything unless he can get his addictions under control. So when Jimmy hears of a mysterious writer who has supposedly found a mystical cure for addiction deep in the South American Jungle, he decides to take a chance. What Jimmy will find in the jungle, however, will not be the Beatles-esque road to Nirvana but instead a nightmare-fuelled journey into pitch black horror.

Well hello everyone. I am so sorry for my absence of late, it’s a long story that I won’t bore you with but consider this my first attempt at getting back on the proverbial horse. After a six month absence from writing reviews, there are only a couple of teams that are guaranteed to get me in front of a keyboard again, and this is one of them. If you were to look at my top three writers, artists, and letterers over the last five years, you would find Rich Douek, Alex Cormack and Justin Birch there every single time.

From the outset this story makes no bones about being a horror title, with the first two pages sufficiently horrific to leave your skin itching. And yes, this happens in just the first two pages… of issue one. If you’ve read any of Rich Douek’s other titles then you know that the man likes to start at a level and then build it up, and up, and up, until you almost don’t want to read the end because you know it has the potential to to scar you for life.

It’s been a while, so allow me to also have a small fanboy moment over Alex Cormack’s work. Over the last three years, Alex has been my favourite comic artist by a significant margin and I’m the very proud owner of two pieces of original art from him, and a number of prints. My wife lets me put his art on the walls, in places that visitors will see them, and we’ve had half a dozen complete strangers look at them on the wall and go “wow, those are awesome”. To clarify, these are the plumbers, the broadband guys, the guys who just put our new windows in, I don’t just drag random people off the street and say, “look at this picture of a nightmare Siren trying to eat my face”…

So… the book. Jimmy Meadows is not a likeable character. Indeed, you will very likely find yourself with an urge to scrape his face across the pavement at least once during the issue, and that’s great. I love seeing an unlikeable character because I know that we’re either going to get a fantastic redemption story or a spectacular journey into spiralling self-destruction. Either one works for me, and Rich has proved on more than one occasion that he’s capable of delivering both in a way that will leave you emotionally exhausted by the end.

The rest of the characters were, I have to confess, a bit of a blur. Not because they’re not well written, but I think because I became so focussed on how awful a human being Jimmy is and getting lost in Alex Cormack’s artwork, which is satisfyingly horrific in some really unexpected places.

I don’t know of many comics set in South America, other than the work of the very talented Gustaffo Vargas, of course. For me, there is so much about South America that is perfect material for a horror story, so many myths and legends and mysteries that have been unexplained for hundreds of years. Don’t get me wrong, there is so much to love about South America, but dark unexplored forests and dense jungle that you can get lost in just a few paces from the road must have so many secrets we’ve yet to uncover.

So, yes, of course I am going to enthuse about this book. It’s made by some of my favourite people in comics, and it’s another superb first issue by this creative team. If you aren’t already reading Rich Douek’s work or enjoying the pure horror of Alex Cormack’s artwork then please, grab this off the shelf. Oh, and make sure to buy Road of Bones, and Sea of Sorrows, and just follow the rabbit hole from there. If you’re already a fan then pick it up, you’re already too far down the rabbit hole to back out now!

Rating: 5/5.


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

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