Writer Steve Niles is back doing what he’s known best for: horror comics, especially those for IDW Publishing. He’s also back alongside recent “Monster and Madmen” collaborator Damien Worm with “The October Faction” #1, kicking off a new ongoing series about a retired monster hunter enjoying the family life, or at least trying to. Fredrick Allan is now a teacher and no longer kills vampires or werewolves, but reminders of the past are coming back as Fredrick lives an unhappy life at home. While the Allan clan certainly has some intrigue and is most definitely not like the next door neighbors, Niles doesn’t do much to make them stand out from a lot of characters of this ilk in this somewhat expository introduction.
Admittedly, readers don’t get to know all of them just yet; Fredrick’s wife Deloris is only seen briefly, mostly from a distance, and a lot of her story is told rather than shown. Fredrick himself is shown to have been quite the hunter back in the day, but nothing is added to really distinguish him from countless other such hunters in various media. His daughter doesn’t seem all that different from the emotionally distant goth-girl archetype, and his son is, well, a stuck-up jerk. Ironically, Deloris is the most interesting character mostly by virtue of her mystery, and the possibility that her seeming infidelity is actually something else entirely. After revealing most of the players who don’t evoke much interest, Niles saves his story by hinting that there is plenty more to tell, and it just might be a little more captivating from what’s been seen so far.
Worm employs a kind of eerie, noir-ish vibe similar to that used by past fellow Niles collaborator Ben Templesmith; there are no bright rooms or spaces here; even the sunlight shining into the family living room struggles to pierce through a shadowy veil that restricts the light from reaching anywhere it doesn’t need to, illuminating only that which is necessary for storytelling purposes. While conveying the moody atmosphere, though, Worm exhibits some of the same shortcomings as Niles; the story looks great, but not strikingly original. It’s a little too evocative of Templesmith’s style, in spots, and the family mansion, while impressively gothic, looks like it would fit right into the neighborhood at 1313 Mockingbird Lane.
Niles doesn’t demonstrate the same kind of nail-biting tension that he has in past efforts, but his story still has a higher caliber, refined feel, thankfully lacking any kind of gratuitous shock and bloodshed. “The October Faction” #1 doesn’t exactly wow or impress, but it doesn’t disappoint, either, and it’s just satisfying enough as an intro to give next issue a try.