I couldn’t quite get on board with this comic. While nothing was terrible or really even stood out as “bad” there was also nothing that stood out as “good”. “The Returning” #1 is a finely tuned, well plotted, no surprises horror comic. Though it comes in riding on a very cool core concept — people wake up from Near Death Experiences changed, violent for no reason — the plot could have used some dramatic revelations or hard twists to stay ahead of the curve.
WRITTEN BY: Jason Starr
ART BY: Andrea Mutti
PUBLISHER: BOOM! Studios
RELEASE: March 12, 2014
Starr dutifully unweaves a tale of our protagonist after she has woken up from her Near Death Experience (NDE). With a simple flashback sequence, we see her jerk boyfriend pressuring her to have sex with him at Prom, we see him driving drunk with her in the passenger seat, and then we see a mysterious man before they go crashing into a tree and both die. But she wakes up 5 minutes of death having experienced the worst kind of actual Hell in her NDE.
Yet in this near future world that Starr and Mutti have created, it’s waking up from a NDE that’s the real hell. Because people are considered “Changers” if they wake up from a NDE, they are known to be extremely violent and murderous. Because of this, out protagonist suffer wave after wave of discrimination, bullying, and abuse. All while claiming that she really, truly hasn’t changed. But it’s the events of the last few pages that call both her reality and our opinions into question.
Like I said, it’s an interesting concept, but it’s presented very safely. It doesn’t appear that Starr or Mutti felt the need to take any risks while telling this story. Because of its strong potential in violence, madness, and bloodshed, the lack thereof was disappointing. On the flip side, it may be a perfect comic for beginners of the horror comic genre. Being fairly innocuous, those who don’t typically love horror but want to try it out will probably find that “The Returning” #1 is for them. And I don’t mean to condescend. I genuinely feel it’s a good appetizer for the horror genre.
I so badly wanted to love this comic based on the lore it imposes to the NDE but it didn’t quite hit home for me. I think that it may speed up in future issues and possibly live up to expectations because it’s clear that the creative team has some great ideas.
Reviewed by – Breed Ogden