The Hunt #1,
Colin Lorimer, Joana Lafuente, Jim Campbell,
Another batch of new releases and yet another intriguing new series from Image Comics (who have just been kicking out some really great creator-owned material in the last few years), this time a nice, dark horror-fantasy from writer/artist Colin Lorimer, set in Wicklow. With a short opening prologue set back in 2010 we get our first glimpse of Orla, a young girl worried about her seriously ill father. Awoken in the middle of the night, she sneaks through the dark hallway to her parent’s room, where her ill father lies, except what she sees isn’t her dad fighting an illness but a hideous, malformed creature hovering above his bed, in a scene dripping with menace and dark intent.
Cut to the present day and now teenage schoolgirl Orla gets picked on at school because of the strange things she said she can see, and for having being taken away for treatment for her “delusions”. Except they may not be delusions, and the ability to see certain creatures, creatures who are not friendly to humankind, may be something that runs in her family, as we find out her grandmother can also sense these otherworldly beings. And they aren’t too happy about anyone being able to see them, preferring to carry on invisibly. And when one of these beings takes on a human form to talk to her after stalking her, it warns her that things are altering, “rules have changed. Endings are approaching…” It’s unclear exactly what this means yet, but it certainly doesn’t sound good for Orla or anyone else around her.
This was a cracking opening issue, mining the rich Celtic folklore of Ireland but for a very contemporary setting and situation – the strange beings most people don’t believe in and only a few have the Sight to see (and who aren’t usually believed if they tell anyone), and while there are plenty of old tales of such beings causing illness, it’s more often by curses – seeing one stretched out like a spider over an ill person in their bed and realising that their malevolence is causing the illness, not some disease, not something human science can help heal, is quite terrifying (all the more so as the victim can’t even see it, doesn’t even know he is being attacked). Another flashback with a younger Orla found by a farmer wandering in the woods, looking for her daddy, is extremely menacing. When the farmer asks her if someone abducted her and her father and hurt them she tells him that “he’s dead. But they have his soul, and it jus’ won’t stop screaming.”
The inference that these creatures can inflict not just death, unsensed and unseen by the victim, but cause something even worse, a torment which goes on after bodily death, is terrifying. And the way Lorimer has this line delivered by a wee, blue-eyed girl lost in the woods but speaking oh so matter of factly adds to the chills, as does the colour palette here, dark, brooding greens in the lost forest sequence, a burned red-orange as one of the beings warns the older Orla in a nightcub toilet. It’s a nice, modern take on some far older tales and folklore, and all the more disturbing for being set in what looks just like the everyday world we all inhabit, not in some distant long ago, far away. I’ll be picking up the next issue for sure.