One of the most horrific things the average, everyday person could do is off someone by mistake—be it a car accident or a simple lapse in judgement—your whole life gets flipped, turned upside down. Enter The Returning, set in an average, everyday world where people who are medically dead come back to life and start murdering. Is it something they see on the other side that drives them mad or is it something psychological? Issue #1 hit today: is it good?
The Returning #1 (Boom! Studios)
This genre-bending comic is written by Jason Starr, who has written some pulp novels and comics too. Straight off the bat, if you’re into solid narrative you might fall in love with this comic. There’s a ton of it, with probably 90% of the words coming in monologue boxes. The main character is always thinking, always reviewing what is going on with her life, starting with the moment she wakes up from a coma. The doctors aren’t treating her kindly though, but rather with fear and caution. It seems those who wake from the dead end up coming back killers. Tied down to the bed, Beth Turner spends the majority of this issue recounting what happened to her four days ago at her senior prom.
Because the straps aren’t enough.
Much of this issue recounts said prom and follows Beth and her semi-ordinary life. She’s your average girl, flanked by the star quarterback, who of course is a sleazebag who only wants sex, with her brother as chaperone. Her dad is worried she’ll get hurt or in an accident and is super protective. Only difference is her mom was murdered recently by a “changer,” otherwise known as a person who came back to life and murders. The world has grown to fear those who come back from the dead and soon we find out it’s for good reason after Beth dies for five minutes and wakes in the hospital bed.
Overall this issue does a great job making this a believable scenario due to how realistically Beth thinks and feels. Starr has a ton of narration in this book, but you’d hardly know it, because the voice is so succinct and real. We don’t get much in the way of how society has grown to fear people who have died and come back, but the nature of their rage makes it clear it’s a very serious thing. There aren’t too many answers in this issue—it’s a four part series and we’re only one part one after all—but we do get to see what she saw on the other side, which is wildly scary. This is a fantastic setup to what could be a real trippy horror comic mini series.
Full disclosure though, the read is a bit boring. Aside from some excellent writing from the first person not a lot happens and the main thread of the story is your average prom sequence. There’s a lot of brooding though, and when you do get to peek behind the curtain and see what Beth sees on the other side it’s pretty horrific. It’s safe to say much of the horror, visually anyway, is being saved for later issues.
The art by Andrea Mutti is very realistic and unexciting, which fits the series intentions nicely. This comic feels like a teen horror film, only with mature writing and tact. There’s no cheapness here and it feels very real. This helps to set the tone and put us in Beth’s shoes. You believe this is happening, which makes it all the more scary. That isn’t to say the art is boring, but for what it’s worth it’s not trying to blow us away either.
Take a chill pill, old man!
Is It Good?
This is a very well written first issue that introduces its protagonist very well. The world is realistic and lived in and you shouldn’t have any trouble believing what’s going on.