Writers: Michael Moreci, Tim Daniel
Artists: Colin Lorimer, Riley Rossmo
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
These days, horror stories are a dime a dozen. A town tormented by a strange creature. A fun weekend in the mountains gone awry. A half naked teen tripping on seemingly the only branch in the entire damn woods. Horror has become so formulaic at times that the fun of being scared is lessened by the decrease in expectation. And that, dear readers, is why books like Curse should be celebrated. The newest mini from BOOM! Studios is packed with familiar tropes, yet the stakes within the story are so fresh and unique that it’s like everything old is new again.
Set in your typically isolated, snow frosted town, Curse introduces us to a populace in panic. Something is out there in the woods, and that something is viciously mauling the town’s inhabitants. As the police ponder over paw prints and steaming entrails, former college football standout and current debt-shackled dad Laney Griffin decides to take matters into his own hands. He ventures out into the swirling white in search of said beastie, the promise of a sizable bounty spurring him onward.
Like I said, formulaic right? Not even. Though a monster tale, the real focus of the book is on Laney and his struggles as a single father to a very sick child. Once a sure fire bet to make the pros, a knee injury cost him his career and the livelihood he had always envisioned. Fast forward to now and Laney is barely scraping by, his every waking moment focused on providing for his presumably cancer-stricken son, Jaren. Writers Moreci and Daniel do a masterful job of painting Laney as a man who lives and breathes for his child, a man who would go to the ends of the Earth to guarantee his well being. The connection between these two characters is the driving force of the story, so much so that when Laney decides to go after the mystery beast you aren’t screaming at his ill-advised plan, you’re rooting for him.
Of course, this IS a horror comic, and there be monsters here. I won’t give away just what is lurking between the trees, but any horror fan worth his/her salt will easily identify where this book is going. That said, Moreci and Daniel do a nice job of spacing the reveal, giving us a glimpse of the future before laying out the back story. This issue is all set up, but it’s engaging and investing enough to easily create interest for the next installment.
Just as we get a writing tandem, the book’s art is supplied by the duo of Colin Lorimer and Riley Rossmo. I usually despise multiple artists working within one book (like, raging hate), but it’s actually used to great effect here. From some research I’ve gleaned that Lorimer handles the quieter (though no less blood soaked) parts of the book, whereas Rossmo tackles the rippin’ and tearin’ of our oft mentioned creature. It’s a nice balance, as we move from the compelling, character driven work of Lorimer to the more visceral, violent style of Rossmo. The transition is fairly seamless as well, which allows we readers to remain continually invested. Both artists have a strong cinematic flair, panels swooping in and out to really drive home the mood of each scene. Once we’re out in the wild the book is particularly striking, the violence and blood stark against the ever present snow. Horror lives and dies by the atmosphere created, and in that they don’t disappoint in the slightest.
In the end, Curse is a surprisingly investing debut that promises much greater things to come. There’s a pulse to this first issue that really propels it forward, with a human anchor that keeps us in it until the final turn of the page. BOOM! has really upped their game recently, so don’t dawdle on what looks to be another well crafted read. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go check the fuse box outside by myself and out of view of witnesses. I’ll be right back!