The series wastes no time getting to it with two quick introductions that feel right out of the pages of the old EC Horror comic books like The Vault of Horror or Tales from the Crypt, before landing in the present day with our white-haired, goth-like hero, Wren Valentine. She has a chip on her shoulder (which we learn a little about in this first issue) and doesn’t seem to want to be anywhere near the countryside of Blackwood... or nature for that matter. Why is she there? I’m sure we’ll find out. She makes friends with Reiko Oyuki and soon is introduced to the rest of the small class of students. The diversity of personalities and race is a breath of fresh air, one that H.P. Lovecraft would have been dead set against and J.K. Rowling for some reason never really took into account.
This collection of students’ first couple of days on campus has them on guard. None of them feel particularly comfortable there and for good reason, which is revealed in this first issue and which begins with the fact that the campus feels more like a giant, unsettling mansion right out of The House on Haunted Hill.
Dorkin relates these character to us with intelligence and a sharp sense of humor. They all have distinct voices, and, immediately, this world feels three-dimensional. Fish’s art is fun and lively. She knows when to exaggerate the characteristics of the characters, when to heighten the unease our students are feeling, and when to ground it so that we can follow their emotionally grounded building blocks.
It doesn’t hurt - well, it never hurts to have Daniel Chabon on board as editor.
All in all, the Lovecraftian elements and dark mystery surrounding the campus are already a great deal of fun in this four-part series, in a large part due to the well-rounded characters. I’ll be back for issue number two.
Creative Team: Evan Dorkin (writer), Veronica Fish (art), Andy Fish (layouts and letterer), Daniel Chabon (editor), Brett Israel (assistant editor), Mike Richardson (publisher), Keith Wood (designer), Christianne Goudreau (digital art technician)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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