Writer Joe Hill (Horns, Heart Shaped Box, The Fireman) tried to revive the iconic monster show Tales from the Darkside, but the push for a television adaptation failed according to the insert. With such success with Locke and Key, there is no question that a comic book version would allow the series to once again instill dread and terror. The source of the horror in this book is the lack of control over one’s own body. Namely, the terror that arises from a condition producing seizures. Brian Newman not only suffers from such a malady, but he also has a demonic twist. The seizures have some ties to a spectral figure named “Big Winner” that causes reality to warp and bend around Newman.
In a trope familiar to horror, the main character suffers ostracism. One day Newman is approached by Clive Finney, a man who offers a solution courtesy of surgery and technology. Hoping to dispel Big Winner, Newman agrees to the surgery.
This leads to a decent but expected cliffhanger for the next chapter of Newman’s story.
In the novel medium, Hill gets time to develop his characters and build an empathetic connection. Unfortunately, the comic book format does not grant that needed time. As a result, Brian Newman feels like a downtrodden stranger instead of a compatriot.
While Gabriel Rodrigues does an outstanding job illustrating the issue, I did not find his depiction of Big Winner to be as menacing as it could have been. More cartoonish than devilish, Big Winner’s color and form failed to come off as tormentor.
While I did like the multifaceted story (there’s a neat tie in to games of chance and puzzles that coincides with Newman’s condition), I never felt for Newman as much as I wanted to. Therefore, the horror did not strike a cord with me.
Although I feel this book is a solid 3, I will look into the next issue to see how Hill will deliver. While this book did not succeed, Hill does have a great reputation as a writer for completing an idea.
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Tales from the Darkside #2 Writer: Joe Hill Adaptation: Michael Benedetto Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital