Review - Cold Spots #1 (@ImageComics)

"Don't you just love watching them play?"

Generally speaking, visiting small, sleepy towns in search of someone who recently disappeared isn't always the best idea. The reason being that typically there are supernatural forces at play looking to stymy that search as in Cold Spots #1 from Image Comics. The issue is written by Cullen Bunn, illustrated by Mark Torres and lettered by Simon Bowland.

10 years ago, Dan Kerr turned his back on his wife and unborn daughter. Now, both mother and child have gone missing, and Dan must face cosmic terrors to find them again. He soon finds that ghosts stir when his estranged daughter is near. And as the dead grow restless, the cold deepens...

Bunn is no stranger to horror and Cold Spots #1 is another feather in that cap for him. It's very clear from the opening pages that there's something strange about the setting and Bunn seems content to plumb the depths of the supernatural in order to show the reader what exactly is wrong. The bulk of the issue is set-up like the beginning of an entry in the Silent Hill franchise, where the protagonist is gathering information about his missing loved ones and learning that where they disappeared is a lot stranger than its surface implies. Bunn achieves a completely unsettling atmosphere through repeated, subtle references to the cold throughout the issue. That cold is typically a precursor to something horrible happening and Bunn knows that there's a lot more fear to be found in alluding to something scary as opposed to showing it outright.

Torres rather masterfully illustrates the book in a way that's just unsettling enough to enhance the atmosphere of the tale. Characters are rendered in a way that demonstrates an incompleteness to their look that effectively mirrors the incompleteness in their souls so to speak. Torres' somewhat vague use of detail when it comes to facial expressions is equally as powerful in conveying to the reader the potentially horrific oddities that are haunting the town. And by keeping the panels neat and tidy, Torres brings some sense of order to the impending, frenetic chaos that further ratchets up the atmospheric tension. The colors are grim throughout the issue that imbue the book with an additional sense of dread.

Cold Spots #1 is a very slow-burn that shows no desire to rush anything. Dan Kerr is on an assignment that doesn't seem too different from his past assignments, but it'll quickly become clear to him that there's a lot more about his mission than he previously expected. Bunn's script is tense and tightly written, emphasizing the setting and giving the characters plenty of reasons to act the way they do. Torres' art is a fantastic fit and achieves an appropriate sense of visual gloom. Cold Spots #1 is a superb first issue that effectively establishes the foundation for what could be a great horror story.

Cold Spots #1 is available August 22.