The Skeletons Outside The Closet Can Be The Most Dangerous
By David Nieves
Steve Niles has made a hell of a living in the horror genre. Having critical and commercial success can be a curse on any creator, but he’s constantly found new ways of invigorating humanizing takes on demons and monsters. His latest creation, IDW’s The October Faction, may be his weirdest story to date, and that’s far from a bad thing.
October Faction is the story of the Allan family. A faction falling apart at the seems from events in their past that are beginning to come full circle. Frederick (a retired monster hunter) has been more focused on teaching his lessons and lectures about things that go bump in the night rather than being a father. His wife Deloris is sneaking around doing something sketchy behind his back that could have serious consequences for all involved. His son and daughter; both of whom have interesting abilities when it comes to specters, are figuring out a way to get long overdue attention from their father. While there’s teases of witchcraft, demons, and everything black magic has to offer; the real story is the family itself. We see this nuclear family has nuclear sized issues. In a way it feels comparable to if the Adams family became a dysfunctional mess, it wouldn’t just be their problem it would be all of ours.
The majority of debut issues in the market limp on a similar crutch of over exposition. Writers try to convey an exorbitant amount of information that steals the mystery from the narrative and consequently from the enjoyment of the readers. Niles crafts this opening chapter in the polar opposite. We get these gripping teases of who the Allan family was without overburdening the audience. A good story knows the necessary moment to peel back the information and October Faction is shaping up to go in that direction. That’s not to say the book doesn’t suffer from some minor opening flaws. The issue could have focused on Fredrick and his wife without having to introduce the daughter until future chapters and it ends a bit abruptly. However, none of that drastically hindered the enjoyment found within these pages.
IDW’s non-licensed properties all have a somewhat uniform aesthetic feel. October Faction fits right in with co-creator Damien Worm on art duties. Each page is one impressionist gothic painting after another. It’s a risky style for general comics’ audiences, but one that’s right at home in this specific genre. With Worm’s art you either really love the Kelly Jones and Sam Keith influences or you really hate them, personally I found myself enjoying the art. Although one of the challenges of the series going forward will be balancing details of the action with heavy darkness the illustration needs in order to thrive. It seems as though the creators are up to the task.
The October Faction is not for everyone, but horror comic fans will find a new interesting world where monsters and legends will be presented in unique ways. Issue one had a few stumbles but its got enough hook for the audience to stick around see what the next few issues will bring. This is shaping up to be Steve Niles doing what he does best; figuring out his own demons and desires through storytelling which makes October Faction worthy of being on your radar.