This week’s main review is Dark Spaces – Dungeon #1 by Scott SnyderHayden Sherman, and team. Plus, the Wednesday Comics Team has its usual rundown of the new #1s, finales and other notable issues from non-Big 2 publishers, all of which you can find below … enjoy!

Dark Spaces - Dungeon #1Dark Spaces – Dungeon #1

Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Hayden Sherman
Colorist: Patricio Delpeche
Letterer: Andworld Design
Publisher: IDW Publishing

Review by Zack Quaintance

Just in time for Halloween, we get the debut of one of the scariest and most chilling horror comics I’ve read in years: Dark Spaces – Dungeon #1. This book reunites writer Scott Snyder with artist Hayden Sherman (colored here by Patricio Delpehce and lettered by Andworld Design) for a follow-up to the awesome and underrated Dark Spaces – Wildfire, which wrapped up around this time last year and is available now in trade.

I absolutely loved Wildfire, which felt like a superstar turn in particular for Sherman, whose work I’ve enjoyed for quite some time now. That book also saw Snyder drilling down on what he (in my opinion) does best: grounded, character-driven horror. Well, this second team-up between them sees a level up of all that. 

This book has an absolutely chilling horror concept, combining serial murder, kidnapping, missing persons, and — worst (or best?) of all for me personally — claustrophobia. Essentially, some unknown serial killer has a series of dungeons all over the country. It’s unknown how many, but the book gives us the sense that there are a lot, perhaps however many it takes to make your blood run cold. And in these dungeons he disapears people and tortures them over the course of months, years, even decades, twisting levers that move cement blocks in confined spaces and break their bones. It’s extremely horrid in just the best way.

Adding a layer to this, there is a detective who is dedicated to unearthing this network of dungeons and catching the man responsible — and he just so happens to be a victim of the killer who escaped captivity as a child. These ideas are all so good, just perfect horror comics stuff, and Sherman illustrates them with a dark boldness, giving both the investigator and the titular dungeons unique visuals that will linger with readers long after they’ve finished the book.

I really can’t say enough good things about this comic. It’s maybe my favorite new original #1 since Eight Billion Genies, and I highly recommend picking it up.

Verdict: BUY

Wednesday Comics Reviews

  • Drive Like Hell #1 (Dark Horse Comics): Drive Like Hell #1 is a new book out this week from Dark Horse, and it features the rising creative team of writer Rich Douek, artist Alex Cormack, and letterer Hassan Ostmane-Elhaou. Cormack and Douek are becoming a must-read teamup, now deep into a partnership that has previously generated gritty comics like Breath of Shadows, Sea of Sorrowsand Road of BonesWhat they’re up to with this new book is a macabre car heist story, a sort of blending of A24 horror with the Fast and the Furious. I know how that sounds, but it absolutely works. Also, not a lot of comics are bold enough to tackle car-heavy stories, but this one does it well. —Zack Quaintance
  • Edenwood #1 (Image Comics): Edenwood #1 sees Tony S. Daniel as writer and artist as he sets the foundations for a world of witches and demons, engaged in a bloody war. As a first issue, it can be exposition heavy, but it is laying the foundations for the world and story that Daniel is building. Daniel takes the space to introduce everyone before jumping forward in time, setting characters into different spaces and allegiances with their own vendettas. The demon designs that we see are pretty haunting, playing in a sort of body horror. Daniel’s work is colored by Jay David Ramos who brings a softness to the linework with color holds and a certain quality to the way the colors are handled across the board. The colors really pump up the pages, building a sense of atmosphere and mood, especially when Daniel goes for wide nature shots, really allowing for Ramos to elevate the work. The book is lettered by Nathan Kempf who defines the sound of the book, getting to play especially with internal monologue and how demons talk through their distinct balloons. Everything comes together to create a sleek looking first issue that aims to immerse in its world building. —Khalid Johnson
  • Giant Robot Hellboy #1 (Dark Horse Comics): This is the literal definition of Dudes Rock. Hellboy’ in the swingin’ 60s, getting put in the body of a giant robot and fighting massive monsters. I don’t think there’s much else I can say about that. There’s already very little context in-story for what happens here, and that’s absolutely to it’s benefit. Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo, Dave Stewart, and Clem Robins are always a great team, and do a phenomenal job mixing classic espionage tropes with wacky sci-fi monsters. No offense to the many talented artists that have joined the world of Hellboy, but aside from Mignola, my favorite stories have come from the pen of Fegredo. All of his panels feel wonderfully cinematic, with these thick lines and great little details. I’m not gonna pretend as if this has some tremendous consequences (though, who knows), but if you’re looking for a rip-roaring good time, there is no other book I’d recommend this week. Cy Beltran
  • Gone #1 (DSTLRY): I wrote about this book in this week’s Top Comics to Buy column, but I’ll re-iterate here that I think this is a strong debut as new publisher DSTLRY’s first full-length release (previously, they had put out the Devil’s Cut, which was essentially a sampler anthology). Jock as a comic artist is really can’t miss, and this book empowers him to essentially create a new sci-fi world from scratch, which he does unsurprisingly well. This world looks great — everything from the tech to the ships in deep space — and it’s populated with interesting characters. Moreover, it gives us something that most good space operas deliver — a tense and compelling set of galactic politics putting its characters at odds. And if all that weren’t enough, this book comes in a nice over-sized format. —Zack Quaintance
  • The Lonesome Hunters – The Wolf Child #4 (Dark Horse Comics): Tyler Crook’s excellent character-driven horror-tinged modern fantasy comic wrapped up its second volume this week with yet another very strong issue. At this point, it doesn’t need to be said that this is a gorgeous comic, but even so, this issue stood out for some of the savage and bloody imagery around the titular wolf child. What stood out to me more as someone who recently re-read the first volume, is the way that this miniseries finale moved some of the long-simmering plot points forward. There’s a major reveal about one of our two main characters in this one, followed by some mechanations that seem likely to give shape to the book’s next volume. And I for one can’t wait. I remain just a huge fan of this book, and I can’t recommend it enough, especially now that there are two full arcs concluded. —Zack Quaintance
  • Slow Burn #1 (BOOM! Studios): Slow Burn is anything but in its first outing. Set in a slowly decaying town full of smoke and unending coal fire, environment mirrors mood for Roxane and co after a botched heist. With an evocative atmosphere and a doubling down of themes, writer Ollie Masters starts us out in media res where it’s all breaking down, all moving a little too fast for our coke addict protag, and every move is a bad decision seconds away from disaster. From there, it’s onto illustrator Pierluigi Minotti to maximize setting and reinforce this shambling abyss our would-be thieves find themselves in, but it falls short in favor of balanced panel layouts with evenly spaced horizontal and vertical gutters. For a tale of mistakes and woe, there’s a distinct lack from the pages and  faces of our trode upon thieves; everyone is so young and expressions read less stressed than their dialogue indicates. Minotti does make full use of shade and negative space to craft a quick read. This certainly helps colorist Alessandro Santoro who packs magenta and violet together scene after scene, only resorting to a relatively natural palette with sepia flashbacks that don’t sell as well, because there’s no color hold to differentiate black ink in and out of flashback. Same can’t be said of letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou who has some fun with Roxane’s coke-fueled miles-a-minute thought process by stacking them one on top of the other and continuing off-panel. The weariness of our cast is mostly present in their balloon tails that waver with their stubby ends to mimic their blunt and ruinous decision making. I’d just wished the character acting and layouts did more to reinforce the presented themes. Bummer, I’ve been in the mood for a noir fast on the take and slow on the burn. Beau Q.
  • Star Trek – Holo-Ween #4 (IDW Publishing): The fourth and final issue of Star Trek: Holo-Ween by Christopher SequeiraJoe EismaCharlie Kirchoff, and Clayton Cowles brings this seasonal story to a wholly satisfying close. No tricks here: this miniseries was a holiday treat, and sticking to a once-a-week release was the perfect way to get it all out during October. It was fun to see the Enterprise-D team transformed into horror characters, with Riker as a werewolf being a standout. I enjoyed the elements brought in from Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation continuity. However, the series deserves a special shout-out for capitalizing on the events of TNG season 6’s “Relics” and bringing back the already-present-in-the-23rdcentury Montgomery Scott to face off against an antagonist he first faced a generation earlier. Finally, I had one wish for this issue’s conclusion back when I reviewed the first issue of Holo-Ween. Without being too specific, that wish was fully fulfilled by the final page of this conclusive issue. Qapla’! –Avery Kaplan
  • Universal Monsters – Dracula #1 (Image Comics – Skybound): Why would readers want a comic adaptation of the horror classic when they could simply watch the film? Superficially, for color. More instrumentally, for James Tynion IV scripting and Martin Simmonds on art. This premiere of a 4-issue miniseries focuses on Renfield and those around Dr. Seward’s asylum where the madman is being treated. Events during the doomed voyage of the Vespa (named for the film version, not the Demeter of Stoker’s novel) occur largely offscreen. Leaving this a lowkey introduction to those under or destined for Dracula’s domination. Above that, however, the creative team casts a mood, a dark malevolence seeping across the Victorian setting from a disused abbey. Simmonds’ nightmarish imagery is superb. He renders characters differently from the movie, and crafts Renfield in singular, terrifying fashion, building dread for the coming Master. Letterer Rus Wooton uses fonts ready, appropriately, to skitter across the page before being caught up in webs. If you’re ready for a stylish retelling of Dracula built around but not yoked to the Garrett Fort screenplay, one focused on atmosphere over action, Universal Monsters: Dracula #1 is a valid All Hallows Eve reading choice. –Clyde Hall

The Prog Report

  • 2000AD Prog 2355 (Rebellion Publishing): This week in the Prog I continued to enjoy the stories I’ve written about in this space before. Judge Dredd: Poison had perhaps its most consequential chapter yet, The Devil’s Railroad remained as bonkers as it is excellent, and Feral and Foe is still a pitch-perfect fantasy romp, like sitting in on a super entertaining D&D campaign. I must admit, however, that I felt like this week’s chapter of Helium by writer Ian Edginton, artist D’Israeli, and letter Simon Bowland was a bit slow. It’s a talking head chapter, albeit one that feels necessary to set things up. The last page, however, seems to promise more exciting things to come, and that’s exciting. As always, you can nab a copy of this week’s Prog here. —Zack Quaintance

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