A Walk Through Hell #1
Garth Ennis (Writer); Goran Sudžuka (Artist); Ive Svorcina (Colorist); Rob Steen (Letterer); Andy Clarke & Jose Villarrubia (Regular Cover Artists)
May 16, 2018
Content warning: gun violence
A Walk Through Hell is the latest story from the mind of Garth Ennis (Preacher, Crossed), drawn by Goran Sudžuka (Y: The Last Man, Hellblazer). Billed as “a new kind of horror story for modern America,” the story follows two FBI agents investigating why two of their colleagues have gone missing during a routine case at a warehouse. Of course, it doesn’t turn out to be routine at all.
First things first. Start reading at page seven. Seriously, skip those opening pages. They’re convoluted, time-and-place-setters that broadcast that it’s current day and that fucked up shit is going to happen. Fucked up shit will most likely happen to women, to children, to cute baby animals, to the nice old man down the street. Don’t get caught up in how Ennis tells you this, just move along to where the story starts. If those pesky pages happen to play a part in future issues, I’ll let you know.
Now that we’re at the beginning on page seven, we’re introduced to our two main characters, Special Agents Shaw and McGregor, who are in the car making small talk of case work. No buddy cop banter, no fire for justice, no Mulder and Scully. More like mumblings with strangers before you’ve had enough caffeine to function. The scene continues on to an awkward lunch with colleagues working the same case. When those colleagues go missing, routine and the procedure start to break down, and that’s where the story starts to get interesting.
Agent Shaw comes across as the seasoned FBI agent who has “seen things.” She’s hardened. She’s tough. She’s willing to walk into the unknown to find her missing colleagues not because she likes them, but because you feel like she wants to find them and yell at them for breaking procedure on a routine case. The premise feels like dusting off an old trope, and I’m not 100% sure I really need another hardened-traumatized-FBI-agent-finds-a-deeper-hell story. But there are some elements that work in its favor.
I like how the story walks the horror balancing act between how imagination makes you afraid versus shining the light on the monsters under the bed. There’s an emphasis on what the characters have seen, but for the reader not much detail is filled in. There’s a retroactive foreshadowing story mechanic that’s equal parts irritating and effective in making me want to see the next issue. I want to know how bad it gets for our “heroes,” how much worse, how much more violent. With the story set in modern day, at the same time I wonder what that says about my own sensitivity to violence.
The art leaves me feeling meh, but the face closeups and many of the facial expressions are stellar at showing frustration, desperation, and confusion. I think this is going to be critical in pulling off this horror comic.
Overall, as a horror fan, I’m willing to give the comic a chance. It’s true I’d rather see a fresher concept, but since it’s Garth Ennis, I’ll give him a pass on first few issues at least. Are you reading A Walk Through Hell? Drop me a note in the comments below to tell me what you think.