"Spread #14" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Justin Jordan
Illustrated by John Bivens
Colored by Felipe Sobreiro
2016, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on July 6th, 2016
In every post-apocalyptic story there comes a time when the survivors find a place of peace amidst all the chaos and bloodshed. Whether that's the shopping mall in Dawn of the Dead or the prison in The Walking Dead, there's a structure of some kind where everyone can catch their breath for a bit. Of course, since these are stories about monsters and death, that moment is short-lived. This is where No, Molly, Hope, and Jack have found themselves. The town of Sanctuary exists uncomfortably close to the Quarantine Zone where the Spread lurks, ready to consume us all, yet it has electricity, working cars, and even a sewer system. Can they stop running now?
Despite all this hope appearing seemingly out of nowhere, you can't help but be wary of this sudden good luck. On the surface, Sanctuary looks great. If you were in a similar situation, you'd want to put down some roots there. No is instantly suspicious, but we're not yet sure if it's warranted. There's definitely something going on in this town. You have to wonder what price these people paid – or are still paying – for all that safety.
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John Bivens takes on the art duties for this issue and fits in with the style set by co-creator Kyle Strahm wonderfully. Bivens' character designs are gnarly and worn, making it clear that these people have been through Hell, but have lived to tell the tale. There are some great closeups on No's weathered face that speak volumes. There's a reason that he doesn't speak much. Molly's wide and crazed eyes are still the polar opposite of No's.
We get a small glimpse of the Spread in this issue, but I definitely want to see more of Bivens' take on it. It bursts through flesh, growing and spiraling out of control like some form of alien cancer made of muscle, teeth, and spikes. Felipe Sobreiro's colors bring out the bright red blood quality of its surface as it stains everything it touches. Sobreiro also casts a permanent dark cloud over all the scenes, like the whole world is in a depression or a never-ending overcast.
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Strahm is providing interlocking covers for this arc. This issue features a Spread-infected No, swinging two axes with a look of madness across his face. I can't wait to see what other images he's got coming.
On the one hand, I'm glad that the characters have been given a moment to rest, but on the other, I know that terror is lurking just around the bend. Spread has set such a breakneck pace to date. There's clearly more going on and I can't shake this feeling of dread. It's like watching a train wreck. You can't look away from the carnage.