Connect with us
Shock Shop #1
Dark Horse Comics

Comic Books

‘Shock Shop’ #1 gives us two stories without twice the fun

Both stories work well on their own, but there’s no obvious larger payoff.

There’s something about a flip comic that evokes an almost mischievous, childlike sense of wonder. Two covers! Two stories! Two cliffhangers! It feels like you’re getting away with something – better read these two stories quick, before somebody notices they accidentally gave you an extra story for free!

Shock Shop #1 features two stories written by Cullen Bunn, with accompanying art by two separate teams. Notably, unlike a more typical horror anthology, neither piece is a complete, self-contained story. Rather, each story functions as the debut installment of a separate ongoing series. It’s a unique and surprising format that is both entertaining and mildly frustrating.

Listen to the latest episode of our weekly comics podcast!

The stories are both introduced by Desdaemona Nimue Moreau, proprietor of the titular Shock Shop. Her look is quintessential steampunk — chunky boots, red waistcoat, black top hat — like cosplay looping back on itself, simultaneously inspired by (and sure to further inspire) legions of well-heeled young cosplayers. She also has one skeletal hand, a lovely little detail that we’ll hopefully learn more about in the future.

At this point, both introductions are largely the same and cover the same basic content. There’s no interplay between them, which seems like opportunity lost. Our host’s affect is aloof and cheeky, her pun-filled prologues are deliberately corny, and it all feels a little bit rote. For better or worse, these preludes are brief and don’t have any real bearing on the stories that follow.

“Something in the Woods, In the Dark” features a large, eight-person ensemble which Bunn and his fellow artist, Danny Luckert, handle flawlessly. Character introductions are brisk and unobtrusive, with organic backstories that unfold with textbook efficiency. Luckert’s compositions are great, with brilliant body language and eye lines that help create an intimate, cinematic vibe. There’s a palpable, simmering tension within the primary couple, hinting at further fractures within the larger group.

Shock Shop #1

Dark Horse

Luckert’s colors underscore this dynamic. Sitting around the flickering fire, the characters are all bathed in a warm, cozy yellow glow. Beyond the firelight you can feel the temperature drop. A cold, spectral deep blue pervades the shadowy woods, ready to prey upon anyone foolish enough to wander away from the group.

“Familiars“, illustrated by Leila Leiz with colors by Bill Crabtree, begins as a contemporary retelling of The Elves and the Shoemaker. The story opens as Trevor, a single dad, is closing on a new house. Exhausted from moving in, he wakes up the following morning to find himself on the receiving end of a favor that’s too good to be true. Assuming it’s all benign, he leverages his good fortune—no questions asked—to be the cool dad and impress his kids. Unlike their hapless father, the kids instinctively know something isn’t right.

'Shock Shop' #1 gives us two stories without twice the fun

Dark Horse

Other than a last-page reveal confirming the children’s suspicions, this story has a lighter feel, with artwork to match. Other than a handful of panels washed in an eerie bright red, the aesthetic is straightforward. The inks are bold with minimal shading, while the desaturated colors feature a lot of blue, brown, and gray, accented occasionally by yellow curtains and bright yellow lettering. The story flows quite nicely but doesn’t quite command your attention in the same way that “Something in the Woods” does.

The natural question, of course, is why the creators and publisher felt the need to employ the flip format in the first place. Perhaps it will become more apparent as the series progress. At this early stage, however, there doesn’t seem to be a clear, compelling reason the two series are packaged together. Desdaemona introduces each series in a vacuum, without reference to the other. That feeling persists throughout. Both stories work well on their own, but there’s no obvious larger payoff. Nothing ties them closer together. To this point, the sum of the parts doesn’t add up to twice the fun.

Shock Shop #1
‘Shock Shop’ #1 gives us two stories without twice the fun
Shock Shop #1
Both stories work well on their own but prompt the obvious question: why did the creators and publisher use the flip format in the first place?
Reader Rating2 Votes
4.4
Cullen Bunn's dialogue and exposition throw you right into the story.
Artist Danny Luckert's compositions and his characters' body language are virtual flawless.
The contrasting tone of the stories keeps things fresh.
Nothing ties the two stories together.
The introductions are quite similar and feel a bit rote.
7.5
Good
Buy Now

Join the AIPT Patreon

Want to take our relationship to the next level? Become a patron today to gain access to exclusive perks, such as:

  • ❌ Remove all ads on the website
  • 💬 Join our Discord community, where we chat about the latest news and releases from everything we cover on AIPT
  • 📗 Access to our monthly book club
  • 📦 Get a physical trade paperback shipped to you every month
  • 💥 And more!
Sign up today
Comments

In Case You Missed It

Full April 2023 DC Comics solicitations: New Green Arrow and Superboy coming soon Full April 2023 DC Comics solicitations: New Green Arrow and Superboy coming soon

Full April 2023 DC Comics solicitations: New Green Arrow and Superboy coming soon

Comic Books

New Dawn of DC 2023 details reveal Cyborg, Titans, Green Lantern, and more New Dawn of DC 2023 details reveal Cyborg, Titans, Green Lantern, and more

New Dawn of DC 2023 details reveal Cyborg, Titans, Green Lantern, and more

Comic Books

'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin –The Lost Years' #1 review 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin –The Lost Years' #1 review

‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin –The Lost Years’ #1 review

Comic Books

Captain Marvel-led 'Avengers' #1 launching May 17th Captain Marvel-led 'Avengers' #1 launching May 17th

Captain Marvel-led ‘Avengers’ #1 launching May 17th

Comic Books

Connect
Newsletter Signup