This new series from the DC imprint Wildstorm is a freak fest and I think it will continue to build upon the chills. Written by Aaron Williams (PS238) with art by Fiona Staples (Secret History of the Authority: Hawksmoor) the series is like a creepy European horror film that they’d only show on TV past midnight. With hints of BOOM! Studios’ Cthulhu Tales mixed with the nasty small town characters of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Deliverance North 40 launches from the gate like a crazed horse with flaring nostrils and bleeding hooves. We are the terrified jockey gasping for air and wondering where this strange beast beneath us is going.
The series is set in Conover County, which is the kind of town where everyone knows each other and where there’s nothing to do except drink, fight or gossip. That all changes after two foolish high schoolers open what looks like the book of the dead, Necronomicon. Now if you roll your eyes and start thinking this sounds like the plot of a cheesy ’80s film with bad lighting and rubber monsters, you’d be wrong. This is a genuinely atmospheric tale that happens at breakneck pace. Scenes never really last longer than to establish the various characters (veteran sheriff, bored young waitress, town outcast, etc) before horror knocks on their door in the form of flying vampire creatures, odd voices that order an arcane ritual and other assorted weirdness. Every character and scenario is interesting enough and Williams handles realistic dialogue colliding with fantastic chills with a superb blend.
Staples’ art is reminiscent of the light touch of Phil Noto, with few lines and muted colours. It’s not an approach I thought would’ve worked in this context, but it really does. Staples sells the environment dutifully, with its parched lawns and endless sky.
North 40 could just have easily been a Vertigo book and there’s an interesting behind the scenes 2 part look at how the series developed over at the new Wildstorm blog, with a glimpse below. Also included in this issue is a 3 page preview of August’s Red Herring 6 ish mini-series.
For fans of mature horror and people in desperate situations, North 40 will help you get freaky.