The Lonesome HuntersThe Lonesome Hunters

Writer/Artist/Letterer: Tyler Crook
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

I read The Lonesome Hunters #1 – #4 in single issues last year, and, much to this story’s credit, the book left a big impression with me. It just felt like such a perfectly restrained comic. Perfectly restrained feels like an odd thing to write about a book that involves an aged monster hunter fighting flocks of talking magpies and their giant queen with a potentially-biblical magic sword, but I think it’s accurate. At nearly every turn this comic takes subject matter that could be grandiose or overstated, and plunges it into far more difficult emotional territory — which yields a far more interesting book.

While those aforementioned plot elements are visual dynamite when put to page here by Tyler Crook, they’re not the heart of what his book is about. And while they do lend themselves to some truly striking horror imagery (the splash in The Lonesome Hunters #1, wherein a magpie lethally inhabits the brain of a character, especially so), they aren’t what really tips this book from modern fantasy into what I’m calling quiet desperation horror. 

The Lonesome Hunters

Let’s take for example Howard, the older of the book’s two main characters. Howard is a monster hunter, or at least he was supposed to be — before he failed at it, instantly. In this story, he is pressed out of retirement by young neighbor whose experience comes awfully close to mirroring some of the trauma of Howard’s youth, giving them a powerful found family dynamic. A lesser book, I think, would have done something about Howard learning outwardly to care again, or, even more trite, having to shake off physical rust to regain his monster hunting form, using the visuals to drive its scares.

But that’s not what The Lonesome Hunters is interested in. The dilemma Howard faces is that he was tabbed as a youth to be the great warrior champion of what seems an awful lot like a demon-hunting cult, and he was very bad at it. So bad he got his father and many others killed. The trauma of failing at responsibilities that were pushed upon him in his youth has soured decades of life, leaving him alone and wracked by self-loathing and regret, a pair of antagonists that are far more complex (and scarier and more relatable) than the demonic birds that tease them to the surface.

And that choice with Howard is emblematic of why this excellent comic left such an impression on me. This is a gorgeous horror comic where walls of flame or splashes of gore are given a muted palette, devoid of bright oranges or familiar dark reds. And it’s better for it. It’s a book where a clenched look of terrified hesitation hits the reader harder than the reveal of a monster design. And it’s a book that ultimately delivers powerful moments of earned commonalities between its two tragic leads, one who is dealing with trauma over a lifetime and the other for whom it is all still so fresh.

I’ve intentionally obscured quite a bit of the plot points and actual substance of The Lonesome Hunters, but I hope I’ve conveyed how much I enjoyed this book, and given you a sense of why. It’s as smart and emotionally honest as comics come, a perfect October read for fans of elevated horror who’ve already burned through the latest spooky movies from A24.

The Lonesome Hunters


The Lonesome Hunters, Vol. 1 is available now.

Read a new entry in the Trade Rating series every Thursday at The Beat.


  1. I picked up the new series based on your review, Zack. I loved the first issue immediately, and then ran back to the store and bought this trade. It’s so easy to read, it just sits here on my coffee table right now. I’ve picked this thing up to flip through it and next thing i know I’ve read the whole thing again and again! Really wonderful, simple little read that’s anything but simple. I love it so much, thanks for pushing these books. I wouldn’t have found it without you.

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