Review - House Amok #1 (@blackcrownhq)

"She knows you're trying Dylan. We all do."

Psychology is a wide-ranging and fascinating subject because there's just so much ambiguity to it all. There's likely never going to be a "right answer" because the concept of right and wrong is largely relative. In House Amok #! from Black Crown, the psychoses on display push the boundaries of right and wrong. The issue is written by Christopher Sebela, illustrated by Shawn McManus, colored by Lee Loughridge and lettered by Aditya Bidikar.

Ten-year-old fraternal twin Dylan Sandifer and her family have fallen down a rabbit hole full of secret implants, conspiracy theories, Mandela effects, extradimensional invaders, and organ thieves. As the attacks against them intensify, the Sandifers light out on a cross-country search for answers and salvation, blazing a bloody path of torture, arson and murder. Can young Dylan save her family from these delusions...or is this ornate conspiracy actually true?

The premise of the book is based on the concept of Folie à Deux--a shared psychosis or delusional belief--and that's the engine driving all the decision-making made by the main characters. Probably the most alarming thing about House Amok #1 is Sebela's ability to make everything about the Sandifer family seem entirely normal and expected. For every instance where Sebela lets the reader know that the Sandifers aren't your typical family (murder, arson, organ theft), there's another instance where they feel completely normal. Sebela does a phenomenal job of that tightrope act where he moves back and forth between the two extremes using Dylan as the conduit for that dichotomy. There are some portions of the issue where things seem just plain outlandish, but Sebela grounds those in the day-to-day minutia of the family as they live normal family lives.

From an art standpoint, McManus does a phenomenal job rendering the family in both their normal lives and their psychotic lives. The linework is sharp and angular, infusing the book with an edginess that perfectly captures the strange (to outsiders) approach to life the Sandifer's embrace. The panels are arranged very cleanly in an effort to bring some order to the frenetic chaos of their life, with McManus embracing a couple of full-page panels to tremendous visual effect. There's also a sense of the paranormal throughout the issue in how McManus renders the effects of their psychoses, presenting some truly terrifying images that are psychologically intense. Loughridge's colors are extremely effective at capturing the mood and conveying to the reader the chaos of the Sandifer lifestyle.

House Amok #1 is a ridiculously fascinating first issue that is fast-moving and riveting. Dylan is a perfect conduit for funneling the narrative through, as her doubts about her family and herself will prove to be a great way to keep the story moving. Sebela has crafted a pretty unique (and intense) story that never seems to let up. McManus' artwork is a great fit for the content of the story as it emphasizes the family in settings that seem expected and settings that aren't so much. House Amok #1 is a well-oiled machine that effectively establishes the characters and gives them a psychotic playground that dabble in.

House Amok #1 is available now.