The Suicide Forest #1 - Untitled - Torres and Hernandez
Story - Aokigihara Forest is one of those weird phenomenons which has inspired quite a few creators, I first came across the 'Suicide Forest' in Mark Waid's underrated Boom! Studios book 'The Unknown', and it really freaks me out. This comic only added to that! Thanks Silver Phoenix, no sleep for me tonight!
Aokigihara is a forest on the outskirts of Tokyo, where loads and loads of people go to commit suicide, and nobody really knows why. It's really weird, and is the perfect setting for a horror story.
At first it was weird to see a Western, non-Manga comic set in Japan, I almost tried to read it backwards! No, not really, I'm not a retard, but still, Japan is a very interesting country, so it's surprising so few American-format comics have gone there (apart from when Wolverine goes there to fuck up some ninjas). Wisely, Torres casts his main character as a westerner too, so the audience are Gaijin, and so is their protagonist. It's a shame that Alan is a bit of a dick, but then again, it looks like he'll be getting his comeuppance soon enough, so we have to see why he deserves to be haunted the fuck out of by his dead girlfriend.
The other main character is Ryoko, a park-keeper for the Suicide Forest, who has a weird connection to the forest, and like, magical powers. I find it weird that Torres went straight for the mystical explanation in #1, when maybe some more ambiguity could have been left, but hey, this is one of the few actually unsettling and creepy horror comics I've read, so he knows better than me.
Overall, Suicide Forest is a great comic, it may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's a strong horror tale, and it feels like the writer really knows his onions about Japan and Japanese culture, if you like stuff like The Ring and The Grudge, this could be up your street, let's just hope we don't get a crappy Hollywood remake!
Art - Don't let the kind of crappy cover fool you, Gabriel Hernandez's art here is excellent, very creepy, and it adds to the sense of unease you feel, even before the horror kicks off. Reminiscent of a bit of Templesmith, and a bit of Sienkewicz, it probably wouldn't work on many other titles, but for this one? Yeah, excellent.
Best Line - 'Now you know that all those old tales are true'