A decent issue that creates several conflicts for future issues but runs a little dry because of its tightened focus.
With Danny’s secret out, it’s open season on outsiders in the township of Willow. With the local lynch mob at their door, one of our heroes makes a grave decision that is sure to shape the series moving forward.
Issue #7 of Cannibal is all about setting stages. From the opening reveal of the town’s first interaction with the infected (which both gives good backstory on the sheriff and explains how his son became a cannibal) to the gathering of the Hansen clan back at Cash’s shack, everything in this issue feels meaningful and with the long game in mind.
Though there are some interesting developments, what with the Sheriff’s troubled past now a matter of common knowledge and hostilities between Grady and Cash growing beyond a simple brotherly spat, it is the final page suicide of Danny that is sure to get the most people talking. Now Danny wasn’t exactly a likeable character, so he won’t be missed for sentimental reasons, but the fact that he’s blown his head off while the Hansens are surrounded by a mob ready to put him down for his cannibalism – with the still closeted cannibal that is Jolene as witness – he may have inadvertently damned them all. Earlier in the series when Danny was outed as one of the infected, we see the Sheriff’s son unable to resist dining on the flesh of his victim at the mere sight of the blood. Will Jolene be able to pass as a healthy person when the mob inevitably enters the cabin?
I imagine this will also play into the Sheriff’s insistence that he and his son find a local scapegoat to pin the blame for this new epidemic on. Jolene seems like a potential target, particularly should she be outed in the aftermath of Danny’s suicide, but I think the more likely culprit will be Grady. As the de facto head of the Hansen clan, whom the locals know has been protecting Danny, he seems like the guy that the sheriff will pin the infection on. It seems like an easy enough fix, since Danny was a close friend who came to Willow in search of Grady’s help, and with what will likely be the family’s protection of Jolene as well, there’s enough evidence to cast a shady eye on our erstwhile protagonist.
Artwise, this is another solid outing for Mattias Bergara, though there are a few cracks in the armor. The cannibal leaping on the Sheriff’s son in the flashback like a Spider-Man villain feels a bit out of place, and there’s a sequence late in the issue where Cash’s beard seems to disappear from one panel to the next. Still, quibbles aside, Bergara’s framing and pacing remain on point, even when he stumbles.
I guess if there’s one thing that you can complain about in this issue it’s that its focus on two points (the sheriff’s flashback and the showdown at Cash’s cabin) leaves the issue feeling light on motion. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy that both elements of the story, which will have huge ramifications on the book going forward, are well developed and rich, but it leaves the issue feeling light on substance. If this were a middle issue in a trade paperback you wouldn’t notice, but as a standalone it feels a little off.