Black Mask Studios
(W) M.L. Miller (A) James Michael Whynot & Dee Cunniffe (L) Jim Campbell
Black Mask Studios has quietly delivered some of the best comics of the year, and Gravetrancers #1 is no different. Siblings Anthony and Maribel travel far to visit their father’s grave to get some closure. The trip takes a turn for the worst when their excursion turns into a game of survival. In this universe, the scent of burning flesh bestows the inhaler with visions and hallucinations. Sounds like a cemetery sharing grounds with a crematorium and a morgue is not the best place to be.
The most exciting thing about this comic is that given the info presented, the series could go damn near anywhere. Author M.L. Miller (Pirouette, The Jungle Book) promises readers that this is not a typical horror story where the protagonists are triumphant at the end. This anticipates good storytelling for issues to come; unexpected storylines will catch readers by surprise. The dramatic irony and eerie art constantly builds tension, and Miller swerves readers several times with literary twists and turns.
The art by James Michael Whynot (Bolts) and Dee Cunniffe (Redneck, Eugenic) is perfect for the horror genre. Readers immediately find the owner of the cemetery questionable with her exaggerated wrinkles and overdone facial features. The use of linear, parallel hatching indicates a bad vibe, and it is done consistently to keep the feeling of horror and dread on the reader’s mind. The characters are given large eyes, which is a creative choice. This way, the ominous characters look creepier, and it better illustrates the effects of the drugs and visions.
From the cover art to the last page, Gravetrancers is unapologetically horrifying and tragically intoxicating. The original content of the prologue is unique, remarkable, and sets up the overall conflict. In the meantime, the protagonists are dealing with immediate conflicts of their own: Freaky-ass cemetery owners, dealing with family estrangement, and sobriety. Become entranced with this phenomenal hit on the shelves with the psychedelic and menacing cover.