Advance Review: Gravetrancers #1

Black Mask Studios continue to publish eclectic books, with the first issue of this grind-house horror of graveyard shenanigans and human remains.  Be warned; it is not for the fainthearted!

The story focuses on Maribel and her brother Anthony.  Both have issues, with Maribel a recovering addict and Anthony looking for some level of connection.  They are on a road trip to their personal mecca, the resting place of their much hated or much missed, depending on individual points of view, father.  But what they find instead is going to test their resolve, their love for each others and basically, screw with their minds!

Mark L. Miller has taken real life events, from the southern suburbs of Chicago and pulls from real life bizarre drug use from various parts of history.  Did I mention that human remains are also involved? It is an uncomfortable subject to be sure, and a less talented writer may well have been daunted by the project.  It must be hard to write creatively when the topic possesses a level of revulsion.  Miller accomplishes this by giving us two characters that we can care about, whom we can get to build a level of comfort with.  Of course, that makes the horror element that much stronger!  The antagonists of the book may well seem like facsimiles, inspired from any number of sources of horror families, Their  introduction brings a level of dread to proceedings.  Horror fans will know they are up to no good, but exactly what is the real horror of the piece?

James Michael Whynot provides the art for the book, with a style that at first glance is full of heavy lines.  Whilst this seems consistent throughout, the ink use does remind me a lot of Mark Texeira on his Ghost Rider run.  Both are horror stories, though Texira’s art had to maintain the superhero ideology.  Here, removed from the world of spandex and capes, Whynot manages to flex his artistic muscles introducing the aforementioned family with an air of caricature, from the dotting yet death-dealing matriarch to the toothless grave-digger.  Overall, the art does suit the book, giving it an uncomfortable edge, which is after all the aim of all horror stories.  Colorist Dee Cunniffe continues in much the same vein, with dark colors that switch into dayglow in quick fashion.  Whilst the colors may not be  as polished as in other books, like the art, it fits the drug induced elements and traditional horror vibe that Miller is aiming for.

Now, I am not a big horror fan, mainly because I am too analytical when watching movies, which reduces the shock levels to almost cliché. Reading this book, I get the impression that Miller may be in the same boat as his book is rooted in Maribel and Anthony.  Its their perceptions of the world and how they view their world through the prism of their pain, hurt and addiction that is the key.  Sure, there maybe horror tropes in play, but it is to the credit of all involved, that they have produced an uncomfortable, yet enjoyable twist on the familiar.

For those who are interested in the book, click Here for an interview with writer ML. Miller

Writing – 4.5 Stars
Art – 3.5 Stars
Colors – 3.5 Stars

Written by; ML. Miller
Art by; James Michael Whynot
Colors by – Dee Cunniffe
Published by, Black Mask Studios

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