Review - The Dark of the Forest

"Never linger too long in one place."

Warnings from strangers in strange places should often be heeded. When they're not as in The Dark of the Forest from Freaktown Comics, things tend to go off the rails quickly. The issue is written by Russell Hillman and illustrated by Sergio Calvet.

Seven friends set out on a birdwatching weekend in the middle of the Navarre forest. Little did they know that while they were watching the birds, something else was watching them. Something that wasn’t human. Something very protective of the forest, and willing to kill anyone that gets in its way.

Hillman doesn't attempt to redefine the genre in the script's approach; instead, he's content to rely on classic characterizations and interactions for moving things forward. There's even the requisite warning at the beginning that portends a series of unfortunate events for the issue's cast. That cast includes the seven friends, all of whom provide fodder for the issue's big bad. The pacing is pretty methodic and drawn out, although there's not really an abundance of tension because when things turn bad they do so quickly. Hillman knows where he wants all the characters to be by the end of the issue and is even so bold as to minimize the chance of a remotely happy ending.

Calvet's art style is somewhat loose in its presentation and provides some levity to the issue. The characters are all illustrated with exaggerated physiques that are similar to those in newspaper comic strips. The linework is simple and doesn't allow for much in the way of changing facial expressions, yet Calvet still manages to impress upon the reader the situation. The settings are minimal as well, with a few scant lines depicting the forest and surrounding environs. The colors feel very natural and effective at conveying a forest setting.

The Dark of the Forest aims to be a horror comic about legends in the woods. The seven friends find themselves in a situation that quickly spirals out of a control despite their best efforts and the ensuing drama makes the comic tick. Hillman infuses The Dark of the Forest with plenty of the expected in a book about friends on a hike in a mysterious forest. Calvet's illustrations seem somewhat lighthearted in spite of the events transpiring within the pages. The Dark of the Forest is a pretty straightforward and formulaic horror story set in the woods.

The Dark of the Forest is available now.