“The Woods” is James Tynion IV’s look at high school culture and man’s fear of the woods. It’s captivating, strangely vulnerable, and a total thrill ride start to finish. This is John Hughes by way of HP Lovecraft creating an ambitious coming of age story through the idea of cosmic horror.
A whole high school is mysteriously transported to an alien forest. Amidst all kinds of teenage drama they have to decide whether or not to stay put, or if they push into “The Woods.”
James Tynion IV is no stranger to amazing storytelling. Hell, the dude is Scott Snyder’s protégé. So it should come as no surprise that he handles the heavy lifting of this debut issue with relative ease. He balances an insane ensemble cast, a ton of cosmic weirdness, and playfully establishes character conflict without missing a beat.
My main gripe with this first issue is the overabundance of dialogue. Most characters are introduced with a line or two that gives their motivations and character beats without requiring any more clarification. It’s clear to me that Tynion revels in the high school banter at play here. He uses playful quips and situations to ease us into the high school mentality. But, all too often he focuses far too heavily on these things rather than getting to the magic of the premise: the cosmic weirdness.
Michael Dialynas revels in the weirdness of horror and high school. Which I suppose are one in the same. He manages to draw the oblong bodies of the young protagonists with a certain weirdness that rivals the creatures lying in the mysterious forest. I wish I could spoil what designs lie for you in wait on these pages but honestly just go out and see for yourself. I’m blown away by what was accomplished here.
The superb use of color comes to define the creepy tone of the book. Everything is drenched in this thick otherworldly purple. It creates a perfect sense of general uneasiness that will get under your skin and leave you positively intrigued as to what’s going on. Which is the general crux of the series. What the hell is happening here? Where are we? And how did we get here? Although these questions are merely teased they provide a thoroughly fantastic backdrop to the adventure that will leave you really creeped out.
But more than that it’ll empower you. Imagine being a teenager with a fresh set of challenges ahead of you. I’d march in there in a second, probably to build a fort, but maybe to conquer some sort of alien life. Tynion will be sure to show us all sides of the predicament with his vast ensemble cast. This is coming of age with cosmic horror. The wait for issue two is sure to be agony.