October, the month of my favorite holiday has arrived! Why not begin this month with reviewing a comic of horror?!
Something quite perculiar has just taken place in Green Wake: there's been a murder. And murders are quite uncommon and seemingly unheard of in this town, at least to resident Morley Mack. Green Wake is a small town filled with residents despite it's ghost town appearance first glance. The one thing everyone have in common is that they're all hermits. Everyone is in fear of each other or what is out there and another thing they all share is that they have no idea how they've stumbled upon this town. Is this all a dream? Is this Hell? Limbo? A town rested in an unknown void? No one knows and strangely enough, no one seems to want to know. The residents, after initially wandering around to figure out how to get out, seem to just give up and allow themselves to be taken into this strange place. Here in Green Wake, everything is gloomy and dark and everyone seems to have their own back story, some we see glimpses of and relates to how they've stumbled upon this mysterious place.
Morley and his friend, Krieger, investigate this strange violent murder and we learn who the killer is on the spot. A beautiful, usually timid young woman by the name of Ariel. The bodies pile up as they wonder where she is and just by coincidence, her ex boyfriend, Carl, stumbles onto town looking for her, also with no knowledge of how he got there. But Morley doesn't believe in coincidences.
The town is filled with all types of horror on top of the new murders. Frogs are skipping around the place more so than the town residents and it appears the longer you've been a resident in Green Wake, the more your appearance starts to resemble our amphibian friends. Frogs, in various folklore in different cultures, play important roles. In some cultures, they are a source of good luck and spiritual awakening, birth, and resurrection. And in others, they're ugly and represent death. In tow, we also have strange monsters, deformed and decaying creatures with bizarre limbs all over their bodies, and while generally frightening, there doesn't seem to be any question as to what the hell they are or how they came to be. Green Wake embodies and composes itself in the world of the unknown, a trope of horror that's generally not as looked upon now with audiences. Val Lewton, the producer of classic horror films from the 30s and 40s such as Cat People, I Walked With a Zombie, and Bedlam, believed true horror lied with what we couldn't see and what couldn't always be explained. While we see plenty on the surface in Green Wake, we don't see what's underneath the surface and thus that's what helps makes this such a creepy tale of horror. While we do get answers and we string along and piece together the murder and just how this town works, there's still so much that we can learn, yet not knowing really adds tension in it's favor. It's obvious creators Kurtis J. Wiebe and Riley Rossmo know what they're doing when crafting this fine piece of horror.
Writer, Wiebe, writes this story in a very slow pace that never seems too slow. It's not annoying and it never gets boring. We're along for the ride and we trust we'll get to a destination. While it may seem like not much is happening, we learn quite a bit of character development and secrets about this town and just how it works. We get little snippets and introduction of characters that only play a part for a page or so but leave open to become full characters if the story proceeds to a next arc or so. Wiebe weaves a very fine tale and definitely seems to be in the camp of slowly engrossing the audience and gradually letting the tension rise until finally we get a nice horrific release that was well worth the build up. And what a build up it usually is when we have Rossmo on art. Indie/Image readers may be familiar with Rossmo's work from Proof and CowboyNinjaViking, and some Marvel readers may know him from Daken: Dark Wolverine. But here is Rossmo at his finest. The mood and atmosphere of Green Wake was meant for Riley and no other artist would have been able to provide the grim and grit that matches Wiebe's writing. The storytelling is a thing of beauty and it's wonderful seeing the storytelling get more imaginative as Rossmo gets more comfortable and let's himself go each passing issue. Riley Rossmo is a beast and he's not afraid to take chances and show you why he's a rising star and an artist to be reckoned with.
If you're a fan of solidly written and drawn comics, filled with grisly atmosphere and tension, decaying strange creatures, surrealism, engrossing and complex characters, old school horror ripe with scary unknowns and mystery, and David Lynch, this book is for you. Don't let a good book pass you by and happily become a resident of Green Wake. As much as the characters of the book seem to hate their circumstances, we love their struggle and turmoil.
Written or Contributed by: Greg DAE