The four selections for this volume include the following:
“Upon Reflection” by Doselle Young and Dean Ormston
“The Red Knife” by Emily Carroll
“The Lurking Fate That Came to Lovecraft Part Two” by Doug Moench and Kelley Jones
“In Deep” by Bruce Jones and Richard Corben
And three one-page cartoon interludes appear through the comic, as well.
The best horror isn’t the story that makes you scared when you hear, read, or watch it, the best horror sticks with you for hours after. I read this anthology yesterday, and three of the stories are good. One story is excellent. What’s my basis for judgment? I’m still thinking about that one story twenty-four hours later.
“Upon Reflection” plays with the mirror image/alternative universe trope. It’s interesting, heartbreaking at times, and an overall good story. “The Lurking Fate…” deals with the Lovecraft lore. Again, this is a story that’s interesting. But one that seems familiar and predictable. “In Deep” deals with a man and woman abandoning their ship and trying to survive while clinging to a life preserver. Compelling and expertly illustrated, “In Deep” also has that I’ve-heard-this-before feeling. But’s it’s good, nonetheless.
The real reason for you to pay $4.99 for this comic is “The Red Knife” by Emily Carroll. The story follows a housewife who becomes too familiar with her cutlery.
“The Red Knife” starts with the narrator remembering how, on her wedding day, the underwire in her bra broke and “bit into the underside of my breast…like a rib had broken free…and was trying to burrow its way back in.” These were the lines that resonated with me. I found it unsettling, perfectly succinct with the theme of the story, and somewhat sexual. Yes, I said sexual. Think of the implication metal biting into a breast in a way that a lover would suckle. But also think about the breast as nurturing. So here is the female narrator nurturing the metal. Growing into a relationship with it.
What an ideal opening that sets the whole tone for the story.
Carroll’s artwork looks something like an advertisement found in a 1950’s magazine. It’s excellent use of lines and shadowing will captivate. It’s, at times, inviting look deceives you. One expects this ebullient housewife to be prim and perfect—areal Stepford resident. And when the narrator explains the titular implement, you would swear that it was indeed red—even though this is a black and white book. And then the story twists like, well, like a knife in your heart (or an underwire in your breast?).
There are two more excellent illustrations from this selection that I will not spoil. But I implore you to check them out.
With three good and one excellent story, this is a horror anthology that doesn’t fail. In fact, just one of these short stories outdoes most of the single story books filling the shelves.
Writers: Young, Braun, Bagge, Carroll, Moench, Jones
Art: Ormston, Bagge, Carroll, Jones, Corben
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: 7/4/12