Review – The Neighbors #1 (BOOM! Studios)

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Jude Ellison S. Doyle
Artwork: Letizia Cadonici
Colours: Alessandro Santoro
Lettering: Becca Carey
Release Date: 22nd March 2023

On sale today from BOOM! Studios, The Neighbors is a horror mystery series from writer Jude Ellison S. Doyle and artist Letiza Cadonici. In this first issue, we meet Janet and Oliver Gowdie and their two young daughters as they move into a rural mountain town. Right from the unsettling prologue, which hints at some shocking events to come, it’s clear that something is very much amiss. And with Oliver, a trans man, consumed with his own anxiety and fear of being judged by their new neighbors and Casey, Janet’s daughter from her previous marriage, refusing to accept her new stepdad, there’s certainly a lot going on both inside and outside of the walls of their new home.

It’s all solid enough character building for the most part, establishing the young family very much as outsiders in this new community. However, it’s the final pages where things really ramp up, with Doyle and Cadonici delivering a genuinely terrifying cliffhanger as young Casey is approached on her porch late at night by a strange man named Tom. It’s this sequence that really sees the series come into its own, with a fantastic use of pacing and dark, suffocating shadows as things rapidly spiral into pure, gut-wrenching terror.

Full disclosure, I’m not hugely familiar with either creator’s previous work, but based on what I’ve seen here, I feel like I’m going to have to remedy that sooner rather than later.  Doyle shows a firm hand with the narrative, telling the story with barely a wasted panel along the way and managing to balance the supernatural horror aspects with the family drama, while Cadonici’s slightly exaggerated character designs and liberal use of shadow to really helping to establish an unnerving mood throughout.

Perhaps what works best about this first issue is just how relatable the horror is.  We’ve all felt out of place in new surroundings, so having the creative team underscore that with a creeping sense of dread and the aforementioned finale that could be ripped directly out of a lot of people’s nightmares makes for a thoroughly engrossing read.  Packed with eye-widening horror and believable personal drama, this feels like an A24 horror movie in comic book form, and I absolutely cannot wait to see what’s coming next.

Rating: 4/5.


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