Review – The Eighth Seal #1

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The Eighth Seal

Writer: James Tynion IV
Pencils: Jeremy Rock
Colours: Nolan Woodard
Letters: Troy Peteri
Publisher: IDW

I became aware of James Tynion in 2012 when he helmed the excellent but underappreciated Batman spin off, Talon. He later collaborated with Scott Snyder on Batman Eternal which turned out to be a great read in its own right and now finally we get to see something original from him in The Eighth Seal.

The first few pages set the scene perfectly for what we can expect for the rest of the series as our main character Amelia, who just happens to be the first lady, recounts a horrifying tale to her psychiatrist. Amelia appears to be suffering from sort of anxiety and social disorder that has her seemingly randomly faint and whilst out has a dark fantasy where she becomes something demonic and dismembers whoever is close by.

Tynion plays a little with our expectations over the course of the first issue, his first ploy is to make her relatable, I mean, who hasn’t had a day dream involving them turning into something nasty and murdering everyone around them? His next step is to involve medication meaning that neither she nor we can trust anything she is seeing/feeling. Lastly we have people she trusts seemingly aware that something isn’t right about her and having conversations behind her back. With all this in play we don’t know if she is actually some sort of demon in human form or a crazy person slipping further and further into madness which gives the first issue an edge.

Jeremy Rock is on pencils and has a lot to play with, both in the normal world and the version of events Amelia can see. Her transformation from attractive wholesome first lady into multi-eyed horror is startling and unsettling as it contorts her features and wears them like an ill-fitting mask. The demon form bears some resemblance to her human visage only in a twisted and corrupted way.

Nolan Woodard colours the world with warm, soft tones for the most part giving us the safe feeling we experience when watching a horror movie’s scenes that take place during the day. When Amelia’s transformation takes place the colours darken and saturate in an unnatural way highlighting the horror in a way that music would normally do in another medium.

So far the book has stopped short of actually telling us if the demon haunting Amelia’s dreams is real or just a representation of her losing control to a more primal side of herself and I am fascinated to see where we go from here. The characters around her have yet to reveal just how much they know about her condition and whether they can be trusted at all but something tells me that will be part of the joy in the forthcoming issues.

It is an interesting and unconventional start to a horror themed book and I enjoyed the approach more than I have others. Where the book actually goes from here is going to be a mystery but one I am looking forward to unravelling, Tynion has already proven he can create suspenseful books that contain elements of horror so watching him write something that could exceed that is an exciting prospect indeed. If you are looking for something a little different then the Eigth Seal is something you may want to check out!