"Survivors' Club #8" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Vertigo
Written by Dale Halvorsen and Lauren Beukes
Illustrated by Ryan Kelly
Colored by Eva de la Cruz
2016, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on May 4th, 2016
You haven't lived until you've seen a topless bug-woman duke it out with a vengeful spirit on the boardwalk. That's what we see in the opening pages of Survivors' Club #8, and things only get more intense. While that's going on in Oregon, the rest of the group is running for their lives from the twisted Mr. Empty in the haunted Muskagee House in Philadelphia. I honestly can't tell which situation is more terrifying.
I'm in love with the premise of Survivors' Club. Each of the core cast members is dealing with some major baggage as they survived separate yet equally horrifying ordeals in 1987. Picture the last person standing in the likes of Friday the 13th, Child's Play, and a handful of other horror films, and you've got your basic idea. Since they all got together, the body count has been steadily rising.
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The creative team could have pulled from the basics of horror movies, but instead the monsters are unique. I'm sure there are similarities to specific films, however the designs are like nothing I've personally seen, which is refreshing. Chenzira is dealing with a demonic video game. Alice has a doll-like double. Teo is battling a bug-woman birthed from a bite mark on his neck.
The creepiest of all these monsters is easily Mr. Empty, if for nothing else than for his abnormally long limbs. Artist Ryan Kelly's design for this character is so friggin' spooky. It's not that he's just tall. It's his arms and legs extend farther than natural. It's unsettling. The darkness around his eyes and mouth certainly doesn’t help. This is madness unleashed and it seems to feed on the damaged psyches of the other characters, so having them all trapped in a haunted house is like a buffet.
Kelly has some chilling imagery packed within this issue. Seeing Mr. Empty's dark eye suddenly peer through a keyhole will be what I see when I'm trying and failing to go to sleep tonight. His long arm coming up through a trap door in a doll house only to grow to full size is a close second. There is also a beautiful two-page spread that gives you a good idea of how warped reality is within the Muskagee House. This is best seen in print, as it involves panels appearing sideways as Alice and her double flee from Mr. Empty.
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Eva de la Cruz's colors bring out the details and help set the mood. Each area of the house has a different tone. It flows from red to blue to grey. Some scenes pull you into a false sense of security, as there's a calming shade to it. Then something crazy happens and the intensity is punched up to eleven again.
That's the thing with Survivors' Club. It's like a horror movie that's constantly at its climax. The killer is not taking his time, picking off a co-ed here and there. He's rampaging full speed through the place, hacking and slashing his way through everyone he encounters. It just so happens that there are multiple killers, each more terrifying than the last. and the victims are more than capable of holding their own. After all, they've been dealing with these creatures for almost 30 years. By the end of this issue, I'm unclear as to who is more dangerous.