Review: Cutter #2
Publisher: Top Cow/Image
Writer: Robert Napton and Seamus Kevin Fahey
Art: Christian DiBari
Letterer: Troy Peteri
Image continues the four part Cutter series, a new spin on the horror vengeance genre in which Emily Higgins rises from the dead to punish those who wronged her when she was alive. It falls upon Jeremy Samuels and other potential targets to establish why this is happening and put a stop to her.
Jeremy assembles anyone and everyone that might be associated with Emily Higgins- past classmates, former bullies and relative strangers- in the hope of uncovering something that connects the victims and explains why she has turned all Carrie on everyone. He attempts to convince them not only that she appears to have risen from the dead in search of vengeance but that they themselves may be responsible and thus the targets. The plan to assemble at a military base to entice and attack Emily backfires, with the group risking being cornered and helpless. Issue 2 successfully provides a little more context and ideas as to what may have brought about Emily’s resurrection/blood thirsty vengeance/knife antics. The potential gripes crowd-sourced from the angry mob, however, appear to be fairly trivial, suggesting that someone among them is keeping a dark secret explaining Emily’s bloodthirst.
Cutter #2 sees the introduction of many more characters, yet there is little character development; everyone in the group seems to get some dialogue but we only learn the names of a handful. It is difficult, however, to include adequate character development given the series’ limited run (four issues is hardly ideal in fleshing out what could easily become a cast of thousands), and it allows Napton and Fahey to focus on pacing and creating a palpable tension. Plus, every good horror movie needs anonymous, disposable characters whose sole function is to increase the body count. Quinn, one of this issue’s few named newcomers, is essentially the Merle Dixon from The Walking Dead of the series; the phrase “I’m at home on my couch, with a six pack, some porn, my shotguns and a locked front door” encapsulates him perfectly. But every good horror story needs an unlikeable anti-hero, and Quinn might just fit the bill.
As with the first issue, the transition between different scenes and sequences can be a little confusing. And how exactly does Jeremy remember the most (seemingly) trivial and asinine stories about people? Either he’s kept a journal of absolutely everything and everyone he has encountered in his life or he is the one we should be keeping an eye on, not Emily…
While the dialogue remains a little clichéd, verging on absurd (like when Quinn exclaims “I’m gonna f**k her s**t up!” which we can only hope is intended to be read ironically), it pales in comparison to Christian DiBari’s art work, which seems to have been amplified by the action scenes in this issue. The action scenes are well-paced and he creates tension and terror perfectly. His use of black and white ensures that he retains the gritty, chilling atmosphere that permeated the first issue. It may well be that the following issues will rely heavily on DiBari’s excellent illustration as opposed to dialogue and plot development, but when the slasher genre is evoked so brilliantly as it is in Cutter it’s not the end of the world. That said, one minor problem with the art work is that many of the male characters look so similar it is slightly confusing remembering who is who. Next issue will hopefully see everyone donning different hats and accessories.
Cutter #2 as a whole is an improvement on the first; we are given a little more insight into what is driving Emily to commit these murders, and it is fun to see the characters band together and become more proactive in figuring out what is happening. The art work eclipses the dialogue and limited character development, with issue two proving to be more gripping and genuinely scary than the last. Even if the series becomes reliant on stellar art work and prefers style over substance, the final pages and cliff-hanger make the next issue more tantalising than issue one managed, indicating that we’re in for a treat next week.