The beauty of comic books is the sheer amount of stories there are in a given week. Not feeling up to a superhero story? Grab an indie original series. That’s just what I did with House Amok #1 which is from Black Crown and IDW, written by Christopher Sebela and drawn by Shawn McManus.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Ten-year-old fraternal twin Dylan Sandifer and her family have fallen down a rabbit hole full of secret implants, conspiracy theories, Mandela effects, extradimensional invaders, and organ thieves. As the attacks against them intensify, the Sandifers light out on a cross-country search for answers and salvation, blazing a bloody path of torture, arson and murder. Can young Dylan save her family from these delusions… or is this ornate conspiracy actually true? “The Sandifers are experiencing a mental condition known as folie a deux, a shared madness that will drive them to kidnap and torture strangers, burn down secret safe houses, and do whatever it takes to stay alive.” –Christopher Sebela, Eisner-nominated writer. It’s a summer vacation the Sandifers will never forget, evoking Natural Born Killers and The X-Files for fans of Paper Girls and Locke & Key.
Why does this matter?
If you’re a fan of Dark Tower or other fiction that mixes reality with the strange you’ll want to read this. It’s also a story about being young with a summer of endless possibilities before you. If you’re not captivated by this first issue you probably don’t have a pulse.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This is one of those stories where you don’t know what is going on, but the captions are written in a way that you can’t get frustrated. Dylan Sandifer is speaking to us through these captions and she’s only 10 years old. In the first few pages of this book a lot of heavy stuff goes down and it’s quite traumatic, especially if you’re a little girl. The family and parents commit a heinous crime and yet they all act as if this is normal. This issue takes its time developing what is going on with the family and their perspective on the world, which makes the eventual reveals more rewarding. By the end of the issue it’s made quite clear Dylan is in a very tough spot and you’ll be rooting for her even though there may be no easy way out of the predicament.
This first issue sets up some very wild supernatural elements that are quite scary. If you like a touch of horror with your supernatural storytelling, you’ll really like what Sebela and McManus have cooked up. There’s even a familiar folk tale monster that pops up at one point. What makes it all even more eerie is the family’s point of view of the world of the supernatural. The reader is stuck wondering if they are insane or are a few people who know the truth. There’s a conspiracy theory aspect to the story that keeps you guessing.
The art by McManus is quite good at telling this story. The panel work keeps the story moving and the focus in the right place. It’s evident from this first issue McManus is a great storyteller, especially when you consider the shock moments, action moments, and other kinetic moments are few and far between. And yet, you’re on the edge of your seat with what may come next.
It can’t be perfect can it?
There is a reveal late in the issue that suggests this family is a lot more evil than they’ve shown so far. Considering how they’ve been portrayed it’s hard to gauge if we’re seeing who they are from the perspective of Dylan or if we’ve yet to see how evil they can get. The normalization of violence and wrongdoing is one of the most compelling elements of this series so far and yet it has tiptoed around that.
Is it good?
An invigorating first issue that kicks off a story that will have you on the edge of your seat. House Amok is a fantastic blending of psychological and supernatural horror.