Writer: Neil Gibson
Artists: Jack Elphick, Leonardo Gonzalez, Casper Wijingaard, Atula Siriwardane, Jim Terry, Seb Antoniou, Erol Debris & Novian Rivai
Which came first, comics affecting society or society reflected in comics? In other words, does art imitate life or does life imitate art?
This is the fourth volume of Neil Gibson’s tour de force anthology book, looking at the evils that which we are capable of and the cost of redemption that potentially follows. Think of this book as a darker version of psychological shows such as Alfred Hitchock or Tales of the Unexpected or even early Eli Roth films.
The volume consists of nine stories all written by Gibson, but featuring a slew of artists including Jack Elphick & Leonardo Gonzalez, Casper Wijingaard, Atula Siriwardane, Jim Terry, Seb Antoniou, Erol Debris & Novian Rivai. All of them add their own level of quality to their respective stories.
Gibson writes about some of the worst traits in people. On show is betrayal of trust, greed, vengeance with a little “no good deed goes unpunished” on the side. Some of the characters start out fine, but somewhere along the way, things change for them. Some get away, some don’t. Gibson does well to give each antagonist or protagonist, depending on your point of view, a different voice which can hard when working on this number of stories in one book.
If I had any complaints it would be that, in some cases, the stories can seem a little obvious and as such aren’t as shocking as you might expect. I have to say, in Gibson’s defense, that this may have something to do with the amount of horror or dark deeds that we are exposed to through various media. Take the film 8mm for example. The first time the viewer watches the video that the Nicholas Cage character watches, we are shocked by it. After seeing a few times during the actual movie, we are somewhat desensitised to it. It could be said, that it is that desensitisation is the true horror in the movie. And that is kinda how I feel about this book. Yes it has good writing and yes the art works on every story, but in the end are the shocks that unexpected?
For me, I am going to give Gibson the benefit of the doubt, enjoying the book for what it is, what is could be and not use it as a barometer on society, recognising that the answer to the question at the top is that it depends on the book and depends on the situation.