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‘Bristlemouth: A Cove Horror #2-4’ – Comic Book Review

Bristlemouth basically picks up right where we left off, with a bunch of friends and overworked nurses camping in the middle of nowhere. We have Benny and Kayla, the couple. Shackies, the resident drunken fool character. Sanny, the empath, and finally, Amelia, the quiet one who’s struggling to handle her grief on this trip. While the trip seems to start out relatively fine, things do go sideways, and Amelia has to find the will to survive the night and the horrors hurled her way.

Hayden Fryer’s script keeps us guessing about the trauma that binds these friends together for a bit, and there’s a particularly long and uncomfortable scene that plays too coy with the elephant in the room. While their bonds do seem realistic, in my opinion, the drama seems a bit unearned. I’m of two minds about the pacing of these last three issues. On the one hand, some sequences feel a bit drawn out, but I have to admit that it felt that way because they made me uncomfortable and tense – which I believe is the point. This is a story about trauma and grief, and working through those experiences requires that we sit with those emotions, despite how prickly and antsy they make us. There is no light without a fight, and Fryer successfully manifests this, with some effective callbacks to specific moments between Amelia and her friends. I do have minor quibble about the occasional spelling and grammatical errors, but they don’t generally impact comprehension of the story.

Fryer’s artwork effectively conveys the atmospheric horror and dread. There are times when things get pretty chaotic and it’s a bit difficult to decipher the action, but that confusion actually works for me as it really gives a frenetic and panicky feel. The heavy use of shadows and darkness adds to the fear element. I also really love the koala stuffed animal as a visual element for hope and comfort, and how it was used consistently throughout the story.

Overall, I enjoyed Bristlemouth and its meditative approach to using horror to explore complex emotions. It’s definitely not for everyone, but I think if you’re interested in a piece that pushes the envelope for what comics can achieve, pick this up!

Creative Team: Hayden Fryer (writer, illustrator)
Publisher: IPI Comics
Click here to purchase.

Wenxian Tan, Fanbase Press Contributor


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