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The Cull #1
Image Comics

Comic Books

‘The Cull’ #1 review: Humanity and cosmic horror intersect in a striking debut

‘The Cull’ is haunting, honest, and unrelentingly gorgeous.

The Cull by Kelly Thompson, Mattia De Iulis, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou kicks off with a splendid mix of mystery, character work, and good old-fashioned vibes. The first issue takes its time, showing us a seemingly apocalyptic event that immediately worms its way into the reader’s mind, then stays there as we’re introduced to the circle of friends central to the story. It’s a hell of a gambit to start things off with a roar and then continue at a whisper, but it fully pays off. I’m immediately engrossed in the human drama at play, yet constantly aware that something so much worse awaits these characters in just a matter of hours.

Where this first issue really sings is in its quiet moments, which provide us with so much unspoken information about the characters. This book is full of bits that feel fully lived-in and relatable: The tension of making a bit too much noise when trying to sneak out of the house. The awkward pauses when trying to make small talk, even when it’s with the oldest of friends. Practicing your smile before pretending that everything is fine. Things like this make these characters feel alive and honest, which in turn makes the supernatural parts of the story feel all the more impactful.

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De Iluis is an incredible visual storyteller, and you can see every bit of distrust, longing, and all of the unspoken words between these characters. The body language and facial expressions feel extremely realistic, and it’s hard not to feel like we know these characters by the end of the first issue, even when there’s so much they’re not telling us.

The Cull #1
Image Comics

And of course, there are a few moments of out-of-this world spectacle that have been glimpsed in previews for this issue. Though we still don’t quite know the cause behind these events, Thompson’s foreboding narration and De Iluis’ attention to detail sell us on the grandeur and horror in equal measure. Just the sight of a beach full of empty clothes — and a hunched-over figure that looks like it used to be human — is enough to get the hair on the back of your neck to stand up, to say nothing of the leviathan towering over the quiet scene. This creative team is still giving us so much, even as they keep the exact hows and whys close to the chest.

I can already tell that The Cull is going to be a special kind of story, the kind that digs deep into adolescent fears and somehow manages to instill a sense of wonder at the same time.

The Cull #1
‘The Cull’ #1 review: Humanity and cosmic horror intersect in a striking debut
The Cull #1
'The Cull' is haunting, honest, and unrelentingly gorgeous in its debut issue. Full of humanity and cosmic horror in equal measure, this creative team has already crafted a compelling mystery and a friend group that I want to learn more about.
Reader Rating1 Votes
9.1
Sets up a compelling and terrifying hook right at the top
Stunning artwork and realistic characters ground the story for the reader
You feel like you know these characters by the end of the first issue, even though there's a lot of backstory left unsaid
9.5
Great
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