"Death Follows" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Originally published as The Remains #1 - #4 from Monkeybrain Comics
Written by Cullen Bunn
Illustrated by A.C. Zamudio
Colored by Carlos Nicolas Zamudio
2014, 136 Pages
Trade paperback released on May 25th, 2016
Have you ever met someone and were just immediately skeeved out by them? It's more of a feeling, like there's something off about this person. You can't quite put your finger on it, but you know that you don't like them. That's the feeling Birdie gets when Cole Jensen shows up at her family's farm looking for work. She knows that her father needs all the help he can get tending to the crops and livestock, however Cole gives off such an unsettling vibe that just makes her skin crawl. Sure enough, that first impression is accurate. The dead don't stay that way when Cole is around, and that's just the beginning of Birdie's problems.
Much of unnerving feeling of Cole comes from artist A.C. Zamudio's design for the character. He looks greasy and unclean. His smile looks out of place on his face, with teeth that are too big for his mouth. His lips pull back to expose his gums. I certainly don't blame Birdie for being cautious around the man. Cole looks capable of doing horrible things without a second thought.
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Writer Cullen Bunn has a talent for horror set in the South. Death Follows is no different. See also Blood Feud and Harrow County. He weaves this innocent and naïve family into absolute terror that pulls no punches. The characters come across as real people, instantly relatable. It reminds me of Stephen King's character work, seamlessly dropping you into this world in a way that makes you feel like you've known these people all your life. Zamudio's artwork, along with Carlos Nicolas Zamudio's colors, reinforce this.
This is perhaps best portrayed in Birdie's tale of poor Delroy McKinley, who allegedly drowned in the local watering hole. No one ever found his body. This is a good old-fashioned local urban legend and it would have been enough on its own. Bunn ratchets up the horror with how he pulls that in and ties it to Cole's unique ability. There is this one sequence that is absolutely brutal and so friggin' creepy. It shows the lengths that Cole is willing to go to protect himself, as well as the ghouls that shuffle around when he's nearby.
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Speaking of the undead, the first glimpse we get of this is a scene in the barn with Birdie and her little sister. They've been sent in with their dog to deal with the rats that have taken up residence there. They make quick work of the pests and just when they're about to leave, they notice that one of them is still moving, despite its guts hanging out. In fact, they're all still twitching. Then they start getting up. There are few things scarier than bloody zombie rats leaping at you from all angles.
Death Follows gets scarier with each turn of the page, building to an unforgettable climax that will stay with you long after you put the book down. There are no happy endings. It moves at a quick pace with its four chapters and it never feels rushed. Every single panel is necessary and works to strengthen the overall story. This is horror at its best.