Horror is not hard to write, but it is incredibly difficult to write it well. Setting and characters are equally important to the creation of the danger or “monster” and that is where most horror/thriller books fail. Not to say that Severed has perfected it, but it is a very interesting story that has a great setting and feel to it. Paired with the fact that it has actual characters, a plot and a developing monster, Severed is a prime example of the horror/thriller genre done right. Jack has boarded a train to Chicago to meet his real dad with nothing more than a dollar and his fiddle. As was common place back in the1916’s where our story takes place, the train is full of tough individuals that are willing to exploit children caught riding the rails. Jack is saved in the first issue by another kid riding the rail named Buddy. Jack gets restless without his fiddle and bag that were stolen from him and decides to invade the next rail car over to take it back. Unfortunately for him, everyone on the rail car seems to be a light sleeper and he’s soon at the mercy of the man who took his stuff to begin with. Even after declining to help, Buddy comes through and saves Jack by knocking out his would be attacker.
They make it to Chicago where Jack is planning to meet his father who is playing at a local club. Buddy offers to go with him as long as he buys the ticket and puts him up for the night. As Jack soaks in the city, Buddy turns out to be more than just his savior as he’s also a girl. The next night they head to the show and Jack approaches the man on the fiddle after the play is over. Unfortunately it’s not his father, but he does learn that his father is back in the very state he left. Meanwhile, Jack attracts some unwanted attention as our monster in human clothing has caught his scent.
What really works for the writing and story in this book is the balance between the thrilling moments, the character moments and the downright grotesque moments, is the fact that they don’t all feel crammed into the issue. Instead they all have an overlapping position in the story that transition from one to the next without being noticeable to the reader. Scott Snyder (Swamp Thing) and writing partner Scott Tuft craft a very good story that has really captured my interest as I continue to be mesmerized by the setting and most of all... the monster.
The art is what really helps this story and without the talents of Attila Futaki this book would be lacking in setting and tone. Futaki’s art is photo realistic and makes the story come to life. The art is very powerful in not just creating the tone, but giving life to the world and characters. Jack looks like a kid lost out in the world with nothing but a dream of meeting his real father. Futaki's choice of coloring is spot on and most importantly the art plays a large part in the storytelling which gives it a very organic feel of being one person that created the book rather than three.
If you missed out on the first issue then do yourself a favor and pick it up and grab the second one while you’re at it. Snyder may be an up and coming comic talent over at DC now, but his work here with Tuft reminds me of early Steve Niles. Fresh new horror/thriller ideas just waiting to be put down on the page and hopefully they continue to find strong artistic talent to bring their ideas to life as they have with Severed.
Writers: Scott Snyder and Scott Tuft
Artist: Attila Futaki
Publisher: Image Comics