Review - Devil Within #1 (@blackmaskstudio)

"This is not happening..."

There's a certain sense of worry that accompanies the unknown. When that unknown makes you question reality, that worry is amped up immeasurably. In Devil Within #1 from Black Mask Comics, the main characters are faced with something truly terrifying and haunting. The issue is written by Stephanie Phillips, illustrated by Maan House, colored by Dee Cunniffe and lettered by Troy Peteri.

When newly engaged Michelle and Samantha move into an old house, Michelle starts experiencing disturbing events… rogue reflections in mirrors, strange apparitions, and an eerie voice only she can hear.
Samantha doesn’t believe in ghosts, but the alternative might be even more terrifying in this hauntingly paranoid thriller.

Phillips is making a horror story more one that plays on the fears and insecurities of its characters as opposed to going for cheap jump-scares. Michelle and Samantha seem innocent enough, carefree and drunk in love with one another, but there's something following them that offers the horror aspects. Phillips knows that it's often what's unseen that makes for the tensest moments and there's plenty of those moments on hand in the first issue. While the first issue spends plenty of time focusing on the atmosphere and tone, Phillips doesn't spend as much time on the overarching plot of the series. That works to its favor in that keeps things suspenseful throughout, but it's also makes it difficult to really get a sense of what's going on.

House does a remarkable job with the illustrations that perfectly establish and capture the tone of the narrative. The way he illustrates the spectre-like being haunting them is violent and aggressive; a great juxtaposition with the otherwise happy-go-lucky main characters. House relies heavily on shadows for the majority of the issue that affords the book more mystery, keeping the reader in constant suspense and fear of the shadows. Panels are arranged somewhat frenetically in a way that keeps pace with the tempo of the issue as the characters seemingly begin to unravel in response to the story's events. Cunniffe's colors are dark, further emboldening the ominous sense of foreboding hanging over the issue.

Devil Within #1 is a very dark and strong first issue that seems to hint at worrisome things happening. Michelle and Samantha were hoping for newlywed bliss, but it's apparent rather quickly that won't be the case. Phillips' script is succinct and starts the story off with some great horror. House's illustrations breathe life into the house and establishes it as a character in the story alongside the other players. Devil Within #1 will definitely appeal to those looking for a psychological horror story that seems to have more horror up its sleeve.

Devil Within #1 is available now.