Writers: Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco & Victoria Rau
Artist/Colors: Marcelo Basile
Letters: Charles Pritchett
Cover artists: Riverio; Eric J; and Derlis Santacruz
Editor: Jessica Rossana
Publisher: Zenescope Entertainment
Price: $3.99 US
An advanced review copy of this comic book caught my eye because it was a Zenescope release that didn’t feature buxom, scantily clad woman on the cover (of course, I later discovered that one of the variant covers did fall into that trap). A horror story struck me as a nice change of pace as well, so I delved into the book. Fans of slasher flicks will find some material here that should appeal to them. The writers have touched upon the number of the conventions of the genre. I didn’t care for the gore, but your mileage will vary. The real problem here is a lack of clarity in both the script in the yard. There’s a fairly large cast of characters serving as potential victims for the monster men that serve as the antagonists, and it’s difficult to discern who everyone is. The characters aren’t differentiated enough from one another visually, and the script doesn’t give us much background on the mournful family at the center of the plot.
Pam takes her teenage kids on a camping trip and guided hike through Peek-a-Boo Gulch in Utah. The terrain can be hazardous, but the experienced guide assures the family and the other tourists along for the trip that with him at their side, they’ll be fine. What none of them realizes is that weapon-wielding monsters lurk in hidden caves and crevices, awaiting nightfall so they can rain murderous terror down upon the unsuspecting campers.
Marcelo Basile’s linework here reminded me of what might arise if one blended the styles of Kelley (Batman, Sandman, Swamp Thing) Jones and Paul (Outcast, Talent) Azaceta. Basile’s greatest strength here is the muted and eerie color palette he employs to instill a greater sense of tension in the story. I especially enjoyed it when he uses unnatural blue and green hues to surround the characters. When the gory action unfolds, it’s a bit difficult to tell what’s going on, but even more critical is the fact that the artist doesn’t do enough to distinguish the characters apart from one another.
Now part of the problem is also that the writers don’t do enough to provide some clearer identifying characteristics for the players in this horrific drama. The promotional material for this comic book indicated that the main characters — a family on vacation — consisted of a mother and her two teenage children, but there appear to be three teens on the trip. The male with the mom and two daughters gets lost in the shuffle as they join the larger group. Furthermore, the redneck father and son are ridiculously one-dimensional, and I don’t buy into the notion that these guys would go on a guided hike and camping trip. They’re in the story for us to hate them, but their presence doesn’t really make any kind of logical sense. Neither does the guide’s dismissal of previous campers going missing.
The comic reads more like a movie pitch. That’s not uncommon in the industry these days, but when I notice that, it always distracts me to the point that I’m not immersed in the story as I should be. The writers also fail to give us a sense of what this family — aside from the upcoming horror — is wrestling with. There’s clearly a pall over them, but the script is far too short on details. If the writers want us to care about what’s the following these characters, we need to get to know them, to learn to care about them in some way, even to identify with them despite the extreme horrific circumstances in which they find themselves. That doesn’t happen in this first issue, which means I won’t be driven to check out the second. 4/10