Image’s seven-issue run on Severed is finally over, and I don’t think there was any doubt from the get-go that this series would be anything short of phenomenal. Snyder gets a lot, and I mean a lot, of praise for his work over at DC on Batman, and Swamp Thing, which is Cool and the Gang, but Severed is another beast entirely. Severed puts the fear back in horror comics. I don’t mean that it’s just creepy or gory; this is a downright terrifying book that fully immerses the reader into the pages and doesn’t let go, even after the final page. There are times throughout the series when you can’t help but hold your breath in anticipation. Every issue is tense as all hell, beautiful, entirely haunting, and the final issue is no exception. Read on for the skinny…
“In 1916, a boy runs away from home in search of his father. But along the way he meets a salesman with sharp teeth and a hunger for flesh. SCOTT SNYDER (AMERICAN VAMPIRE, BATMAN, SWAMP THING), SCOTT TUFT and ATTILA FUTAKI (NYT Best-Selling-Artist: PERCY JACKSON) comes the most terrifying horror series of the year. Be there for the thrilling conclusion.”
WRITTEN BY: Scott Snyder and Scott Tuft
ILLUSTRATED BY: Attila Futaki
Severed takes place in the early twentieth century when fear was ripe in the hearts of Americans, and it’s hard to imagine anything more terrifying than a boy running away from home to encounter a creeper like Alan Fisher. To give some context, the series is very loosely based on the infamous serial killer, Albert Fish, the child rapist, pedophile, cannibal. The only thing I can think of more terrifying than a cannibal, is a cannibal who eats children and crushes their dreams. The story works in equal parts as a historical fiction and a horror tale, and the way it’s written should be enough to make even the best comic writers jealous with a violent rage.
Although it looked like Jack, the runaway boy, was safe from Mr. Fisher’s teeth, he’s really in his most vulnerable place yet at the start of this issue. With Jack back “home”, Fisher finally has him right where he wants him and he’s been hungry for a while now. Given where the first issue started, you can pretty much imagine the outcome of the final chapter, but that doesn’t take anything away from the intense thrill ride that this book offers. The foreshadowing of the first issue frames the narrative into a complete whole, a masterpiece.
Snyder and Tuft do a commendable job at creating characters the reader can relate to. Who didn’t think about running away from home at least once during their youth? Everyone has dreams of becoming a traveling artist. At points the tension was so high that I wanted to scream at the book, “Watch out Jack!” but then I realized I’m alone in my room and I stopped myself.
Fisher’s dualistic nature, split between nice old dude, and creepy as f*ck human-eater, bring him to life as well, showing that he is not just some malicious man out to kill. Oftentimes serial killer stories focus on how crazy the murderer is, and they forget to add bits of humanity. This is precisely why Snyder and Tuft succeed; they add sense of emotional depth and realism that is rarely seen in horror comics nowadays (obvious exceptions aside). Their use of suspense pulls the reader so deep into the story that they feel right alongside Jack as he is tied up helplessly in the rundown basement. From the first issue, the creative team has been planting the seeds of a terror tree, and this issue it is in full bloom, true signs of masterful storytelling. Anyone who wants to write horror should study this book like the bible.
Every time you think something is going to pop out of a corner, just when you’re covered in goose pimples, every time you think the climax is about to happen, things settle down. Snyder and Tuft really work your mind into knots. But the slow pacing doesn’t lead to nowhere like some other stories I can think of, there is actually pay off in Served. With the previous six issues all building up to this point, this final chapter has the biggest payoff of all. I won’t spoil it, but the open ending seals the deal and leaves you with the lingering fear that Fisher may be lurking in your basement, waiting to gnaw off your hand.
But, to give all the credit to the writing team would be blasphemous and downright offensive. Someone needs to call the police because Futaki is a murderer when it comes to artwork. His work is as breathtaking as it is horrific. Futaki’s realistic style fits perfectly with the script. The gravity of the story is fully captured in the darkness of the illustrations. The pages are saturated in gory goodness for the final showdown, displaying the eeriness of the early 20th century. This book is dapper from head to toe, and Futaki deserves much of that credit.
Severed already feels like a timeless horror comic that will be used as the touchstone by which every other series is judged. Am I sad this is over? Yes. But, it has raised the bar for horror comics an infinite amount. The suspense in this issue is insane, it feels like the finale of a show you’ve been watching for years. Severed is a book that will keep you guessing from issue #1, and if you missed out on this read, I envy the fact that you can read it all in one go when the trade comes out. A man who wears a fake set of teeth over his horrible fangs to fool little kids into coming into a basement with him, if that doesn’t scare you, you should see a doctor. Chalk another one up in the win column for Snyder.