In Cascade #1 and #2 when Mark’s fiancée Sue Daniel, reveals that she’s pregnant, the daddy to be couldn’t be more pleased by the news. He wants to shout it from the roof tops, and the happy event feels like the perfect opportunity to meet Sue’s reclusive family at their remote, rural farmhouse; however, Sue is strangely reluctant to take him home to meet dear old Mom and Dad. She could just be worrying that her conservative family won’t accept her pre-wedlock pregnancy, or is it something far more sinister? Throw in a redneck ex-boyfriend, a broken-down car, a horrible storm, a mysterious Native American curse, and an eerie house that looks straight out of a horror movie, and the stage is set for a few chills to run down readers’ spines.
Cascade grew out of one of the creator’s research into American ghost towns. When he stumbled upon the strange tale of Kaskaskia, IL, he saw an opportunity to take the local legend about a Native American curse decimating the population and turn it into something even more creepy. At the same time, the curse aspect of the comic plot felt forced. Personally, I would have enjoyed a straight up creepy sociopath story over a mystical cause, but, given the historic source, I took it in stride. The horrific plot twist in the final chapters startled me, because, for once, I didn’t see it coming. Readers should simply keep in mind that this is a horror tale, and anything goes when it comes to creep factor.
The primary trio of characters – Mark, Sue, and Steve – successfully felt like ordinary people who had real lives that occurred before the opening of the story. There were a few wonderfully played horror movie stereotype twists such as setting Steve up as the creepy axe murderer when he just watered down their gasoline to try get a few extra bucks “fixing” it. The tension between Mark and Steve also played out well when Steve’s short history with Sue came up in conversation. The bearded gas station attendant’s torch hasn’t burned out for his ex-girlfriend, even if he’s convinced her father hates him.
The art style for Cascade isn’t one that naturally attracts me, but I have to admire the skill of a self-taught artist since I have half-heartedly tried to learn to draw and never produced anything worth printing. The paintings that became the covers of both volumes are striking and excellently portray some of the key aspects of the interior plot. Also, if you carefully examine the interior artwork, there is foreshadowing at the ending. I especially found the drawings of the Daniels’ farmhouse apropos, given that the exterior looked like something straight from an eerie film. The inside shocked me simply because it was so ordinary and welcoming.
Overall, Cascade #1 and #2 don’t break any new ground in the horror genre, but they are a great addition to the tried and true chills already available. Pick it up if you want to be scared for a little while or just want an eerie indie read.
4 Well-Posed Family Portraits out of 5