The first issue of Joe Hill’s new comic book for IDW came out this week, and for his first foray into comics, the novelist shows an uncanny proclivity for comic-writing, which is quite impressive to me (as I have noted in the past). The end result is a spooky set-up for what promises to be an enjoyably eerie comic book.
First off, one of the most impressive thing a horror writer can do (especially right off the bat) is get the reader invested in the characters he is planning on tormenting in the future, and Hill does a good job introducing us to the three main characters, three siblings who are sent to live in a bizarre mansion with their mother after their father is brutally murdered.
Hill continues the mundane reactions even after the murders – he has a real ear for dialogue, as the interactions the main character, Tyler, has with his friends and his uncle are both realistic and humorous (“Dude, you are so famous now!”).
The intercutting of the past (where the Tyler faces off with the killers, to deadly and bloody effect) with the present works well, as Hill is really stressing the whole horror mixed with normal life aspect of the comic, which is a good idea, as that is probably the strongest feature of the work.
Speaking to the everyday life approach, the characters all realize that going to live in a house that has a NAME is creepy, in and of itself (the house is called The Keyhouse), so Hill hangs a lantern on the setup quite nicely.
Hill is leaving the truly bizarre stuff for the later issues, I imagine, but he still gives us a number of tantalizing hints as to what weirdness awaits the readers in future issues, and what specific roles keys play in the story.
Gabriel Rodriguez’ art is pretty good. It is a bit on the cartoony side, but I think that works well with what Hill is going with the “contrast horror with everyday life” thing, so this is probably a better approach than an artist who specializes in moodier, darker art. That said, Rodriguez, what’s the deal with the sister’s hair? Is it made out of yarn? It distracted me.
For a first issue, this was an effective beginning. And if Hill is this good with his FIRST issue of comic writing, I can only imagine how good he’ll get as he gets used to the field.