Saturday, 21 January 2017

Death Follows Review (Cullen Bunn, A. C. Zamudio)

A creepy drifter gets work at a farm and then strange things coincidentally start happening like the dead coming back to life! Death Follows this chap – but why?

Cullen Bunn and A.C. Zamudio’s Death Follows is the best horror comic I’ve read in some time. It’s not just a gripping tale, it genuinely unnerved me at one point too – that’s rare, a horror comic that’s actually horrifying! 

The story follows Birdie, a young girl whose parents run a farm, and her perspective on the scarecrow-like figure of Cole Jensen, the mysterious fellow who appears out of nowhere and becomes her pa’s helper. Right from the start the reader gets hit with unease as Bunn writes Birdie’s narration in the past tense with a mournful tone so we know she survived but that something terrible happened – who in her family died in this story… or did she lose all of them?

Meanwhile artist A.C. Zamudio introduces Cole in shadow and gives him a really awful smile that’s as gummy as it is toothy – it feels very visceral when he opens his mouth. Death permeates this book with scenes of the girls killing rats in the barn with their cute dog, Jerry Lee, and the terrible swimming hole as well as vivid nightmares and waking dreams of gore slotted in between Birdie’s increasingly fraught scenes with Cole.

This unrelenting approach both hammers down the horror theme and easily holds the reader’s attention – there’s never a dull moment in this book. And hats off to Zamudio for that panel with the dead kid walking on the lawn – THAT was what unexpectedly creeped me out when I turned the page! I liked Zamudio’s art in general for the characters’ expressive and dynamic body language – he captures real energy on the page.

I suppose if I wanted to critique it, I’d say that you know from the first panel you see him who the villain is and he’s predictably as one-dimensional a bad guy as you guess he is. There’s also nothing original about the story as it re-uses genre tropes throughout – it feels very familiar and reminded me strongly of the stories Stephen King was writing in the 1980s before he became sober and boring. 

But it’d be disingenuous of me to give this less than a perfect score because I was totally entertained the entire time and really enjoyed it. There’s something to be said about stories that don’t do anything new or surprising but still manage to keep you enthralled the entire time – they’re just good stories and this is a perfectly constructed, wonderfully unsettling and self-contained horror tale.

If you’re a horror fan, you can’t go wrong with Death Follows.

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