It’s October so that pretty much means there’s going to be influx of horror comics and Halloween specials. I’m a sucker for Halloween specials and I figure any series that has the balls to wait most of the year just to release one issue in October is worth checking out. With all that in mind, I have read a lot of terrible October books as I will now call them. It’s unavoidable. When one that’s worth reading comes along let me tell you, you want to talk about it. That’s the case with Straitjacket #1. You can actually hear me talk about it on this week’s episode of our comic book podcast the CBMFP. Straitjacket caught me by surprise. I mean the title is pretty straight forward (pun intended), but it’s also a bit common. It’s like having a comic called “Pumpkin” or “Horror Stuff”, it’s on the nose.
Thankfully though, the story inside was anything but common. El Torres strikes again. The story opens with a girl performing a ritualistic murder of her twin brother. You actually don’t learn the relation a little later in the comic, but it’s strange not to mention it to you now. Years later we find the sister, Alexandra, in a mental hospital. She’s highly intelligent and so her doctors are re-evaluating her condition because it’s far more complex than schizophrenia. They’re so right they don’t even know! Alexandra’s new doctor is actually in a wheelchair and might be suffering from his own condition. He makes contact with Alexandra and tries a different approach. She responds well, but she is very smart and aware of how psychiatric hospitals work. Everything seems fine until she mentions that her brother… the dead one, likes the doctor too.
I would tell you more of the story because I think this is a soft sale on it, but I don’t want to ruin it. There’s more going on and you can hear me talk about it on the podcast if you need more than this. El Torres is a great concept guy, but also a talented writer. I’ve read plenty of first issues with great concepts, but most of them you wonder if there’s going to be anything more to the story. With El Torres you can tell there’s going to be more because he threads the plot in such a way that you can see where it’s going. Alexandra is a wonderful character and while the Doctor and supporting cast aren’t flushed out, they feel like real characters already and that’s important.
The artwork is the perfect fit for the story. The issue is in all black, white and red and adds a ton of personality to the story because of this. It’s mostly B&W which is always great, but artist Guillermo Sanna understands the difference in creating something in black and white and leaving something like that to be colored later. This is the former of the two. His use of contrasts is wonderful. Sometimes the page will be more black than white and vice versa. There’s just an incredible balance to the art that adds to the atmosphere and creepiness.
If you’re into horror or maybe you just like stories about the insane, then you’ll definitely want to check out Straitjacket. I’ve already checked out a few terrible Halloween specials this year and this is leaps and bounds ahead of them. This is the start of a solid mini-series so check it out.
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