On my first reading of The October Faction #2, I wasn’t impressed. In fact, I was close to dropping it altogether. Much of this had to do with the art; not necessarily in Worm’s more viscerally photoshopped Templesmith style, but in the thick drapes of shadow in which he smothers them. Coupled with the frustratingly heavy IDW watermark on my review copy (not to look a gift horse in the mouth), it made my reading experience a taxing one. But I’m glad I powered through ... mostly. Issue two continues to follow retired monster hunter, Frederick, and the recoil his prior life has afforded him, both on his fellow former slayers and his family, none of whom are entirely what they seem. Through flashbacks, we are given further (though still subtle) indication of the divide between Frederick and his old partner, Lucas, as well as that which exists in the former’s own family, adoptive though it now appears to be.
In fact, one of the best parts of this issue’s story is Niles’ tepid and grotesque family dynamic: the fatherly disappointment when he returns home, scolding his children for carving summoning circles on the floor (“Your mother is going to kill you.”), raising hellspawn in the house and doing it all to impress their dad, so that they can eventually follow in his footsteps: a path which, of course, doesn’t sit too well with papa bear. It’s a nice interplay that feels comfortable in the writing, if necessarily terse in the story itself.
Luckily, this conversation takes up the bulk of the issue, fleshed out further with the ongoing mystery of what has happened to Frederick’s wife and little hints of what’s going on in Lucas’ own world, not to mention how they are inextricably linked. Niles’ writing and story direction does sometimes dabble in cliché, and I have to say that - unless I completely missed something - the ending was pretty weak this issue. It leaves on a cool enough image, but does very little in making me want to continue the story.
As I said earlier, on the whole, I found the art to be a bit of a problem this time, hiding as it does behind too dark a curtain. Worm’s use of negative space was something I applauded in the first issue, but here I think he relies on it a bit too much, where really he should allow his clear talent to step more often into the light. Even from the beginning, it mars the story; for example, when two characters shout “Holy Shit!”, but there’s so much shadow, we can’t immediately see what the fuss is all about. An element of dark is fine, even welcome in a story like this, but not at the expense of narrative clarity.
Still, I had a good enough time with The October Faction #2 that I decided to write this review, so it’s obviously doing enough right that I want to stay on-board. I just hope it can fix its little glitches enough so as not to scare me away completely.
Writer: Steve Niles Artist: Damien Worm Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 11/12/14 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital