There is something inherently scary about tribal religions. Anyone will agree that voodoo, black magic, or the guy ripping your heart out of your chest in The Temple of Doom is frightening, but to me, even the common African religions or the ones practiced by the Mayans and other ancient civilizations raises the hair on my arm. Not to offend anyone who might practice some of these religions, but something about them is just a little creepy which is a significant reason for why Drums, a new series by El Torres, debuts with an effectively frightening first issue. Read on for the skinny…
Weird voodoo-esque religions are not often seen in the horror comic genre, and I think it’s about time we were due for one. Perhaps writers are afraid, because of the close connection to zombies, to step into such topics for fear of drowning the market with yet another zombie comic or something very similar. Or maybe they’re worried about the stigma of messing with another’s religious beliefs, especially when the religion is the culprit of a horror premise. Whatever the reason, it’s refreshing to see the topic used again to scare the pants off of readers.
Martin Irons, a superficial detective, has been assigned a case of what looks like a mass suicide. His instinct to only believe in what hard evidence can tell him starts to be shaken when he has a startling experience with one of the dead victims. What makes the book an interesting read is not so much the details of the mystery, since little is explained in the first issue, but the manner in which the story is told. Much of the action takes place as discussion between Irons and other detectives involved with the case interspersed with a few brief moments of disturbing images. Laying low with the creepy, tribal stuff makes it all the more frightening when it comes around. Torres also makes clever use of wordplay, mostly concerning associations with the book’s title which is mysterious and original in and of itself. It will be interesting to see where Torres takes the meaning of the title in future issues and how it relates to the supernatural entity behind the murders.
The art, by Abe Hernando and Kwaichang Kraneo, is fitting for the type of book Drums is but is nonetheless not the main attraction here. The colors are nice—serious shades of browns and blues that darken as the horror intensifies—but there are a few panels and facial drawings that seem somewhat amateurish. It’s not something that destroys the book, but it’s also not something that you would necessarily want to frame on your wall. I would like to note that taste in comic book art usually differs from person to person, and judging the quality of art in any book in incredibly difficult, so the best that I can say is that some of the pages, but not all, did not draw me into the book quite as much as I would have liked.
The art, as I said, is not the meat of this book, though. The story holds enough on its own to pull the reader through each page. The pacing and placement of each scene make the read enjoyable and satisfying.
Pick this book up if you like your scares induced by mystery and suspense…and, of course, tribal religions involving headless chickens.
“DRUMS” Issue #1 Is Available NOW From Image Comics! (MSRP – $2.99)