Sunday, 3 April 2016

Stitched, Volume 1 Review (Garth Ennis, Mike Wolfer)

An American Blackhawk helicopter goes down in the Eastern Afghanistan mountains but her crew survive. They meet up with the British forces they were going to relieve and discover a horrific new threat: shuffling hooded undead figures, their eyes and mouths stitched together, who can’t be stopped with bullets. How are they gonna make it out of there alive?! 

Stitched is another great Garth Ennis comic that I was going to say would make a great horror movie but something in the back of my head made me google what movies Ennis has been involved in and, wouldn’t ya know it, Stitched was his directorial debut in 2011! It’s an awesome setup: a small group of soldiers with limited ammo, some of them injured, making their way through enemy territory blind with anti-American forces closing in AND the added threat of zombie-types on their tail. I’m sure it’s a fine short but I’d still like someone more experienced to turn this into a great feature. 

Though similar to zombies, Ennis’ Stitched are different in that they’re controlled by black-robed figures twirling tin cans - sounds silly but take out the black robes or shoot the cans and the Stitched freeze like statues. Whereas with zombies who shuffle around til they’re put down, our characters can get right up close and personal with the Stitched when they’re deactivated who can restart their murderous ways as soon as another tin can starts up. I liked that sudden on/off threat variation. 

Ennis is basically Mister War Comics so it’s unsurprising that he writes the cast of international servicemen so well - their interactions, ribbing, etc. were very convincing. If there’s one critique it’s that the story is a bit too long at seven issues. Once things are established around issue three or four, Ennis should’ve tried to wrap everything up by issue five or maybe six as it goes on without really adding much - it’s just more shooting, etc. But it’s a minor complaint, I still liked it.

Mike Wolfer’s art is excellent - loved the Afghan landscapes, the Stitched were very creepily designed, and the action was drawn well. Because this is an Avatar comic, there is a LOT of gore so be prepared for some very graphic scenes of limbs being ripped off, people being eviscerated, heads being shot off, and so on. Some of the main cast’s faces were a bit unremarkable and I had a hard time differentiating between some of them but to be fair to Wolfer he’s drawing soldiers all wearing the same camo gear with roughly the same body types so he did a good job with the material he was given.

Stitched is a very entertaining and well put-together horror story with a contemporary flavour to it given the Afghanistan war backdrop. It’s extremely dark and grim but so long as you’re ok with that you’ll get a lot out of this exciting comic.

Stitched, Volume 1

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