Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Review - Curse #1

"See, Laney, man is the only beast that will do almost anything to preserve the weak."

Werewolves have a way of being terrifying and brutal, yet they're still subject to being caught every once and a while. The bigger question is what to do with a werewolf once you've caught and trapped it. Chances are, it doesn't like sandwiches with the crust cut off. Sometimes though, desperate times call for desperate measures and watching those measures unfold in Curse #1 from BOOM! Studios could be fun. The issue is written by Michael Moreci and Tim Daniel, illustrated by Riley Rossmo and Colin Lorimer and lettered by Jim Campbell.

Laney Griffin is a man who will do anything to save his son Jaren from leukemia, but the cost of treatment has broken him financially. When he pursues an elusive murderer in the wilderness of his small, rural community, in the hopes of securing a substantial bounty, Laney is confronted with something he never could have expected: a werewolf. The captive lycan, in human form, turns Laney’s life upside-down, forcing him to confront his haunted past and race against the clock—because the wolf will return and Laney’s son’s condition continues to worsen.

While at its heart, Curse #1 is more or less a typical werewolf story, Moreci and Daniel do manage to infuse it with a breath fresh air in Laney. Laney's son is medically getting worse, forcing Laney into selling all of his belongings and taking out multiple mortgages on his house. That's enough motivation to inspire Laney to venture out into the wild and track down whatever it is terrorizing the nights, except Laney has no idea what he's up against. The reader gets a brief introduction to the lycan in question and it's very clear that Laney fears him and is taking every precaution. The rest of the first issue really gets the reader up to speed on Laney's past and his current plight, neither of which seem enough to prepare him for his uncertain future.

For a horror book, Rossmo and Lorimer do an admirable job. Shots of the werewolf are pretty fleeting, tapping into the psyche of the reader and leveraging the fear of the unknown. There are a lot of tight close-ups of various features of the characters that are important to them. For instance, there's a close-up of the werewolf's mouth, Laney's college football ring and even a sickly looking Jaren. They're very powerful images that really define that character and sum them up very succinctly. Some of the shading is a little dark and makes it slightly difficult to discern what's happening on the pages, but again that plays into the horror feel as well. The book is chock full of varied panel layouts and the characters look believable, with some panels evidencing even a photorealistic quality.

Curse #1 is a werewolf book, but it has the potential to delve a lot deeper than that. Laney is a man possessed with saving son, much in the way that the werewolf is possessed by the moon every thirty days. Their paths are intricately intertwined regardless of how much they may not realize it yet, which offers two rather interesting foils. Moreci and Daniel are very deliberate with their pacing and it almost seems they wanted to get all (or most) of Laney's backstory out of the way so they could focus on furthering the storyline. Rossmo and Lorimer handle the art duties with horrific aplomb, littering the pages with blood, gore and general terror. Curse #1 is fairly slow moving, but things could definitely pick up as the series progresses.

Curse #1 is in stores now with interiors below.


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