As I write this review, I am simultaneously dining on one of Montreal’s finest culinary masterpieces: The Fairmount Bagel. For those not in the know, the bagels here in the “City of Saints” (particularly those found at the Fairmount bakery) are nothing short of life-changing. I say this having many times partaken of the oft-touted New York bagel, and I must admit (at the risk of receiving death threats) that Montreal’s efforts rival those found in the Big Apple. That’s right, New York, COME AT ME! As every Montrealer (or visiting freeloader) knows, of course, these usually sesame-encrusted orgasms-in-bread should be topped with a heaping helping of Quebec’s own Liberté Cream Cheese, an action I dutifully observed today. It was as I slathered an indeed liberal blanket of white goo on my delicious doughy buns that I had an “eat-piphany” (if you will) about Image Comics’ Spread #1.
Written by Justin Jordan with art from Kyle Strahm and colors by Felipe Sobreiro, Spread #1 tells the story of a world that is slowly being smothered by an amoebic, tumor-like mass of sentient bloody viscera and gnarly teeth not ironically called “The Spread.” With each organic being that it swallows, The Spread grows, transforming its meals into a part of the whole: disgusting, zombie-like creatures who very quickly devolve into its bleeding, pulpy mass. This transformation is best shown in one scene where Arctic Blast Hulk Hogan is killed by a flying piece of the spread (there are many variations, it seems) and then has his eye turned into hungry mouths that pop out of his head to consume their victim. Yeah. It’s pretty fucked up, I won’t lie.
Shockingly, only a few humans survive in this environment, with many becoming opportunistic and murderous “raiders,” who pick at the scraps of a dying world. There are, however, survivors like our silent-but-violent hero, who goes by the name “No.” (Big Daniel Bryan fan, this guy.) Looking like a somewhat bedraggled Wolverine, No enjoys a unique immunity to The Spread, and perhaps because of that, finds himself in a very precarious situation with a group of raiders, a dying woman and a newborn baby girl, who could hold the secret to destroying the previously-thought unstoppable Spread.
This brings me back to my eat-piphany, wrought as it was by this book, far too much cream cheese and an overactive imagination. Spread is the spiritual sequel to the seminal 1985 horror shlock classic, The Stuff. If nothing else, the two definitely have a very similar narrative flavor.
Way I see it, the story goes like this: The Stuff - a delicious, sentient edible gunk first bubbles up from the ground in 1985, capturing hearts and minds (literally) with its addictive additives and zombie-rendering powers. Over time, The Stuff (which at the end of the film you’ll no doubt remember, remains “alive,” despite the world’s efforts to kill it with fire) drops its innocuous façade as a tasty human treat and mutates into its final form, The Spread. The End???
Okay, so that’s a tenuous thread to pluck, I know, and maybe this is because The Stuff freaked me out so much as a kid, but I really enjoyed Spread, despite its similarities. Using a narration that borrows maybe a bit too much from Saga, Justin Jordan does an otherwise good job of teasing the deeper furrows of this world, with its Spread creature variants, enclaves of humanity, weird pro-Spread antichrist figure and a savior that could finally free the world. I wouldn’t say the story is particularly inspired yet, but the action in this terminal wasteland is gruesome, gripping and gut-churningly beautiful. Most of that, however, is thanks to the art and color team of Strahm and Sobreiro.
This book looks incredible. With a style that looks like Rob Guillory and Nick Pitarra’s art had a lovechild (with a liaison with Rossmo for good measure), Strahm brings a chilling carve to Spread, which despite my comparison above, stands on its own as something quite unique, even when the story itself is less so. The colors from Sobreiro are equally jaw-dropping. I love how he has chosen to subject the overall tone to a sort of washed-out or frozen palette, which he then uses as a canvas to splatter the sucking wounds of red Spread with sickening abandon. It’s gorgeous (emphasis on the gore) and I recommend you pick it up just for its visual punch alone.
So yeah, Spread may have much in common with both The Stuff and my Québécois lunch (not to mention other stories like The Thing), so it may not be the most original idea, but I’m already engrossed in its world and thanks mostly to the art team, am all-aboard to see where Spread goes next.
Writer: Justin Jordan Artist: Kyle Strahm Colorist: Felipe Sobreiro Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 7/9/14 Format: Mini-Series, Print/Digital