"Hallows Fell" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Written by Thom Burgess
Illustrated by Izzy Stanic
2017, 44 Pages
Simon is a bit of a jerk. He's a businessman plucked right out of the '80s, complete with hits of blow. After a night out on the town, he's trying to make it back home, only to realize he's lost his credit card. This leaves him stranded in the countryside where he catches the attention of a local spirit who begins stalking him with hopes of marriage. Every time he thinks he's escaped, he turns to find this specter not far behind.
Hallows Fell is the latest from writer Thom Burgess, who has set an incredible pace with titles like Malevolents and The Eyrie. It matches those other comics in tone, subtly building tension over time until you're about to go insane from fright. Artist Izzy Stanic creates a moody atmosphere cloaked in darkness to the point where you can almost not trust your own vision. Was that a ghost lurking in the shadows? Or are your eyes just playing tricks on you?
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The images of the ghost are what really stand out in Hallows Fell, especially with how abruptly the spirit appears. One panel has a perfectly normal shot of an interior of an 18-wheeler and the next has this ghost staring through the window with a crazed look on its face. It's the closest thing you'll get to a jump scare in comics.
What is perhaps even more frightening than seeing the ghost upfront are its subtle appearances. It stalks Simon, as if playing a game of cat and mouse. At times it's heard but not seen, making odd noises from the shadows. Other times it leaves little tokens for Simon to find, like gifts for a beloved. All of this works to build up that signature tension. Stanic knows when to ratchet up that terror and does it well.
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As with Burgess' other works, there is some folklore built into Hallows Fell. The spirit is actually that of an old, hateful witch who was murdered by the town. Now she haunts the place looking for a husband as a sacrifice each year. This is all told by a chatty janitor. This doesn’t add up because why she would want a man in death when she doesn’t seem to want one in life? It creates a cool idea, but the two stories don't jive.
Although the story is very unsettling, Simon is tough to care about. This makes the pain and suffering he goes through lack meaning. I was cheering on the ghost because he kind of deserves some of what's coming to him. He's an entitled jerk who should be taken down a peg or two.
Hallows Fell reads like a creepy ghost story you'd hear around a campfire. It's the kind of tale that will leave you looking over your shoulder and questioning that trip out to the countryside.