Exploring your trauma through vengeance is a tale as old as Batman. But by making that more explicit, I Walk With Monsters gets to play with the horror of trauma and of vengeance in a more direct and tangible way.
This mostly owes itself to both the strong core concept and near-perfect pacing. The concept is simple, vague, scary, and somehow sweet all rolled into one. It’s great, and interesting, but more than that, it doesn’t explain anything, or much at all, really.
The pacing is really what I’m in love with, though. Low panel counts are weirdly underutilized in comics, but here? No page has more than four panels on it, with multiple splash pages throughout the issue. It’s bewildering, but in a good way. Somehow it feels like a full issue, even though it has a fraction of the panels that the average comic has. In theory that means less content and less time spent with the issue, but instead it feels like it’s easy to reread, and breezy. Like most great horror, the brevity allows for the consumer to fill in the blanks, to work with the story to build apprehension. It doesn’t take time to explain itself, so it gets to immerse you in the few scenes in the comic.
I will say though, that while I do think the pace is good, it’s much stronger at the start than it is toward the end. The issue opens strong, and the first nine pages are great comics. I think it loses that energy as it closes, and I actually think the ending lacks punch that it could have had if it kept the energy up. I’m not sure more pages would have helped, but the way it ends, it doesn’t feel like the ending of a first chapter, and it feels like it was cut short a bit. It makes me more reluctant to pick up the next issue, because this feels like a worse way to read this than reading it as a collection would be.
It should also be noted that this book looks fantastic. The colors by Dearbhla Kelley are great throughout, but there’s one transition that is beautiful and horrifying. And artist Sally Cantirino does amazing work with space in this issue. Of particular note is the different way four panel pages are drawn, what is happening with the negative space in them, and the decisions that went into making them oriented the way they were. It’s good stuff. The issue also hinges on the characters’ emotions, and the nuance that Cantirino brings to the table sells the whole story.
This is a strong issue, and will likely be a strong series, I’m just not sure it’s one that I will enjoy more all at once or as a monthly title. Either way, this belongs with the other strong horror comics that have dominated this year.
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