Jude Terror delves into the world of horror with a review of North 40 by Aaron Williams and Fiona Staples! In stores today!
Credits & Solicit Info:
Written by AARON WILLIAMS
Art and Cover by FIONA STAPLES
The residents of an isolated rural area discover superhuman – and supernatural – power in their midst in this title collecting the hit 6-issue miniseries. The power stops at the county line, but inside the afflicted area, something ancient and malevolent stirs as new monsters arise. Can Wyatt, an unlikely hero from the wrong side of the tracks, join forces with Sheriff Morgan and town outcast Amanda to keep the county from imploding or being eaten by mighty Cthulhu?
Wildstorm 144pg. Color Softcover $17.99 US
On Sale November 10, 2010
How often does a rural, midwestern town become the victim of a demonic outbreak of horror?! Ok, so it happens all the time. Can Aaron Williams and Fiona Staples give us a good reason to go for one more ride down this familiar trail? Yes!
North 40 doesn't waste any time, throwing the reader directly into the story after a short prelude. With any other book, this might be jarring, but North 40 has some unique properties that make this tactic work where it might otherwise be a hindrance. First of all, there is nothing new about the concepts. Cthulu horror, small town Midwestern setting, and elements of zombie and high school slashser flick are mixed together here to create a world that is comfortably familiar, despite its oddity. Fans of the various genres of horror will feel right at home here, but they won't be bored.
North 40 tells the story of a small, rural community called Conover County, which just happens to be the subject of a demonic outbreak of Lovecraftian proportions. After a hapless RPG geek and a sulky goth girl get their hands on an evil magical tome, all kinds of horror is unleashed on the area. While monsters terrorize the townfolk, some residents are affected by horrible mutations, others are imbued with fantastic powers, and some end up somewhere inbetween. Of those with newfound powers, some use those powers for their own personal gain, while a few rise to the occasion as heroes.
Beneath the surface of this tale of small town monster mayhem lies a deeper mystery, as a Sheriff as old as anyone can remember and an old woman imprisoned in her own home choose avatars, the plucky, sarcastic Amanda and the outcast country-boy Wyatt, and try to guide these young heroes to set things right. Wyatt's "origin story" is particularly amusing when it's revealed near the end of the book.
The art here is surprisingly light, with rough lines and washed out colors that set the tone as small town Americana, but Staples adds darkness and emotional hues at the right moments to subtly heighten the drama when the mood calls for it. When an eerie high school zombie dance turns violent, the pages themselves light up in orange and red hues. You won't notice unless you're looking for it, but this is the work of an artist who knows how to manipulate the feelings of her audience.
The matter of fact nature of both the story and the storytelling methods cause North 40 to stand out inside a horror genre that's not weak by any means in the comics medium. Rather than looking for a concept to separate North 40 from its peers, like Chew or Proof, Williams and Staples use good old fashioned storytelling prowess to get the job done. Though the chaotic nature of the story and the lack of a comprehensive introduction may leave readers struggling to follow and identify with the characters, the plot is compelling enough to cause them to want to. Readers who stick with this will not be disappointed, though I wonder if this wouldn't have fared better as an OGN from the start, rather than a miniseries.
Regardless of its original format, North 40: The Trade Paperback will bring you on a wild ride through all your favorite horror tropes and leave you hungering for brains... I mean a sequel!
One more tip: if you read the narrator's boxes in the voice of Waylon Jennings from the Dukes of Hazzard TV show, I guarantee an extra level of enjoyment.
Rating: BUY IT!
My rating scale:
BUY IT - You have to read this for the foreseeable future.
TRY IT - Worth at least a few issues.
WAIT FOR IT - Pick this up in trade if it lives up to its potential.
SKIP IT - Spend your money on something better
Review by: Jude Terror