Severed #1(of 7) - 'Nothing Wasted' - Snyder, Tuft & Futaki
Story - Scott Snyder is one of those writers who's rapid ascent up in the industry proves that comics really isn't as closed-off and insular as many think. 2 years ago nobody had heard of this dude, but then, with a little help from Stephen King, his American Vampire was hitting headlines and becoming one of Vertigo's biggest sellers. Now he's set to write Batman and Swamp Thing in the new DC relaunch, and American Vampire is doing so well as to earn a tie-in mini-series. But up until now all of his work has been for one company, DC/Vertigo, can Snyder make the leap to Image Comics and the world of Indies? You're dam right he can.
Snyder, and co-writer Scott Tuft have put together a really interesting book here, and one which horrifies and delights in equal measure. One of the best things about American Vampire is how skilfully Snyder melds American history with horror and Vampires. In Severed, the two Scotts do the same thing, but with a different type of horror. Whereas American Vampire is dealing with, well Vampires, the more supernatural side of horror, Severed is about more realistic dangers, and a very human terror. Snyder and Tuft effectively combine this with a pitch-perfect depiction of Great Depression-era America.
I've always been fascinated by this era of America's past, I know we are in a depression right now, but that first one just seemed so much better. Obviously it was a fucking terrible time to live in, but there's something romantic about it, the way people like Woody Guthrie sing about it and John Steinbeck write about it, just make it seem somehow beautiful. Just like Michael Scott (we even share a birthday, March 15th) in The US Office, I have a secret desire to ride the rails as a travelling Hobo. Which is what our young hero does in this issue, and the scenes where he jumps onto the train are just a delight.
Those scenes are contrasted well with another young boy, who believes he is getting a job at General Electric, and is driven by his benefactor out into the woods. The sense of fear here is electrifying, you know something bad is happening, but you don't know what. The best horror is a slow-build, a creeping dread, and then a release of shock. And the last page of this issue is certainly a release.
I do have one quibble with this book, and it's the structure. The book opens in the late 50s and early 60s, and then flashes back to the even further past. I kind of question the wisdom of showing that our main character survives the story (albeit not without losing an arm), it kind of lessens the suspense if you know he survives to a ripe old age. Although there is a story going on in the 'present' too, so there may be some suspense there.
Severed #1 is a great book, and apart from one small problem, I'd heartily recommend it, if you're a fan of Snyder's DC work, then stop out of Warner Brother's loving embrace and into the arms of Image, and if you're a fan of horror, then this is one of the few books of that genre on the market that is actually pretty scary.
Art - Attila Futaki is an artist I am unfamiliar, but apart from having an awesome name (Attila! Bad-ass!), he proves himself to be a great artist here. His art has a painterly feel, and at times reminds me of Norman Rockwell paintings, but a bit less clean and shiny. It evokes America's past, but still conveys the horror. I think this guy might have a bright future ahead of him.
Best Line - 'Behind these pearly whites, I got Razor Sharp teeth'