5 Skull Review: “In The Dark: A Horror Anthology”

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Rachel Deering amasses one of the largest tomes of horror in comics. A collection that will chill you to the core, educate you on the tenants of the genre, and change the way you look at horror comics forever. “In The Dark” is a supreme example of horror in comics. You can’t miss this book.

0109-in_the_darkWRITTEN BY: Various
ART BY: Various
EDITED BY: Rachel Deering
PUBLISHER: IDW
PRICE: $49.99
RELEASE: May 7, 2014

The tome begins with an incredible introduction by the indelible Scott Snyder. He walks the reader through the genesis of his relationship to horror. It’s a thought-provoking look at what makes horror great and defines the rest of the book by offering some insight into a genre most people are afraid to love.

In the interest of hitting everyone, and proclaiming my love for the genre. I’m going to touch every story in here with at least a sentence about how it made me feel.

Cullen Bunn and Drew Moss offer a chilling look at the forlorn and sinister dilapidated building we all remember from our childhood in “Murder Farm.” While Justin Jordon and Tyler Jenkins offer something more Lovecraftian by dealing with creatures or visions from another dimension in “The Unseen.” “Famine’s Shadow” explores the more sinister side of the things we take for granted, Rachel Derring and Christine Larsen craft an ending that will leave you feeling dreadful for weeks. Micheal Moreci, Tim Seeley and Christian Wildgoose craft a tale so engaging and fun with “Guilloteens” that it could easily be an ongoing in the tradition of Monster Squad. You hear that IDW!? Take my money!

“All Things Through Me” sees new horror master Mike Henderson draw out a deceptively simple and monstrous tale of morality by Mike Oliveri. Steve Niles and the incomparable Damien Worm present a haunting look at loss in “When the Rain Comes.” “The Body” offers up some empowered supernatural revenge like only Tim Seeley can, with Stephen Green’s wonderfully evocative and visceral art. The poetic nature of food consumption is explored as a fine art in Christopher Sebela and Zack Soto’s “Final Meal.”

Tom Taylor’s “In Plain Sight” plays with the conventions of the detective genre with gritty art by Mack Chater. High school and sadness go hand in hand, but James Tynion IV’s “Why So Sad?” will change the way you look at the emotion forever with Eryk Donovan’s art creeping under your skin to stay. “Not All There” remains a personal standout for me. Duane Swierczynski and Richard P Clark submit a disgusting body horror tale that really makes you aware of all your appendages. Gah, I really can’t stop thinking about this one. Matthew Dow Smith and Alison Sampson explore the more nefarious side of inheriting large, empty real estate in “Shadows.”

“Doc Johnson” from F. Paul Wilson and Matthew Dow Smith looks at medical malpractice with a lens of questionable morality. Scott Snyder beautifully flips everything about the child in peril story on its head with artist Nate Powell in “The One that Got Away.” Andy Belanger’s unique style in Sean E William’s “Proximity” is sure to be with you for some time, this science fiction horror will peer into your being and refuse to look away. “The Lost Valley of the Dead” might be the most unique story in the book, which says something. Brian Keene and Tadd Galusha set up a western zombie tale that ends up being anything but.

Jody Leheup’s “Set Me Free” takes being trapped in an elevator to a whole new level with Dalabor Talajic’s claustrophobic art. “The Road to Carson” is painted in blood, and Nate Southard and Christian Dibari create a horrible reminder that the west was filled with death. An artist’s body is usually in some sort of disrepair and “Body in Revolt” from Thomas Boatwright takes the concept literally. Ed Brission and Brain Level’s “The Cage” is a creative, unique and simple werewolf tale.

Paul Tobin and Robert Wilson IV present the standout ghost story in the book with “Girl on the Corner” we get a fantastic insight into the dead women of New York City.
Rachel Deering goes all out Gothic insanity with Marc Laming on “Swan Song” a vampire story as beautiful as it is deadly. “Inside You” is a powerful look at the horrific effects of bullying by the way of a body swap thanks to Valerie D’Orazio and David James Cole. The final story shows the birth of a brand new happy family in “Gestation” from Marguerite Bennett and Jonathan Brandon Sawyer.

After all the short stories you have one hell of a pinup gallery that showcases some of the most talented artists in comics doing their horror thing. It’s chilling, haunting, and arresting. If that wasn’t enough, there is a monstrous essay on the history of horror by Mike Howlett that might just be the most impressive thing in the book. Reading it will educate you like nothing else.

As you can very well tell “In The Dark” is crafted to cater to literally any taste in horror. It’s a robust work of art that doesn’t only scare you to the core, but educates you on the various sub-genres of scary. It teaches you about the genesis of horror in comics and is so chock full of content that you’d be insane not to pick it up. There isn’t a single story in here that doesn’t deliver tense writing, sharp art and polished lettering.

This book reads like a dream but it will inspire countless nightmares. If you go in weak and naïve you’ll come out with a fractured psyche. Although somewhere within that frail mind you’ll have a much better understanding and love for the genre than you did going in.

“In The Dark” is sold as a tribute to the genre, but it’s so much more. It elevates horror comics to a whole new level and dares anyone else to try to take the mantle away. I’m simply blown away by all the content and talent in this book, and you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who isn’t. I’ve read the entire tome 4 times now, and I find something new to love about it with each read. It’s simply a masterpiece that needs to be part of everyone’s collection.

 

Official Score