Tortured Life #1

A comic review article by: Felicity Gustafson

Neil Gibson's back with a new ongoing series! Tortured Life is the story of a man who can foretell the deaths of others before it happens and I'm very tempted to crack a "I see dead people" joke right now, but it'd probably be redundant since I'm sure everyone else is thinking it too. The thing about this series is that it's not about some chiseled superhero going out to save the day. Instead, it's about an average guy who believes he's cursed and goes into a withdrawal from society. It's not some earth-shattering tale of right and wrong, it's meant to hit home for a lot of people who're just living their lives day to day. What would you do if suddenly you got flashes of how people would die? What if you walked down a sidewalk and all you could see was death and mayhem? Would you try to stop it or would you retreat to your apartment and never leave?

Now I know there have been a few stories out there with the same basic concept of a person foretelling a horrific future, but Gibson adds a certain touch with the main character that makes you care. In a nutshell, he could be you. He could be anyone. This guy's given up hope of ever living a normal life when suddenly something goes right. Someone he envisioned dying doesn't die. Does that mean his visions are wrong? Can they be changed? Well, we'll just have to wait for another chapter to find out, but the massive cliffhanger does leave quite a few questions to be considered.

Gibson has a talent for suspense and it really flourishes in his writing. His stories steadily pick up momentum while you're reading and you don't really realize it until he throws in a plot twist at the end. Something different that's meant to open the eyes of the reader. In my head, I have a tendency to call it "being Tron'd" because he takes a left turn right in front of you, cuts off your train of thought and leaves your mind crashed and wondering what just happened -- in a good way, of course. 

Wijngaard's artwork is as amazing as ever with the attention to detail and full use of color. I know this is technically a horror comic, but I just can't find it in myself to complain about the vibrant colors that were used. Normally it would detract, not setting the right ominous tone, but it seems perfect for Tortured Life. Maybe it's because it's meant to be normal. The scene is set for any other day in anyone's life. Now unless you live in Seattle, the world isn't gray all the time. 

There's even a few inside jokes thrown in for good measure. T-shirts, video games and posters -- almost like little Easter eggs if you look for them. Anyone else spy what's on the TV?

Overall, I greatly enjoyed Tortured Life. I has just the right amount of darkness to intrigue a horror lover like myself, but it's not disturbing enough that I wouldn't recommend it to just about anyone. That cliffhanger at the end really caught my attention. I'm not sure if issue #2 is on its way or if Gibson's waiting, but I'm very interested in reading another chapter and I'd suggest you give it a try.


Felicity Gustafson was born in Ohio and, after the astounding realization that there was more to do than look at trees and cows, she decided to become a nerd and got into comics, anime and video games. At Comics Bulletin, she sticks mostly to reviewing things out of the horror and comedy genres. She spends most of her time working in the manufacturing industry, finishing her computer degree and steadfastly avoiding ham fat at all costs.

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