"The Gathering: Volume 4 - Into the Abyss" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Grayhaven Comics
Edited by Andrew Goletz
2011, $3.50, 52 pages
Comic Book released July 2011
The folks over at Grayhaven Comics have been putting together a steady stream of up-and-coming talent in their anthology series The Gathering. Each issue focuses on a particular genre, with the creators submitting stories that fit that month's theme. Their first horror collection came out in July 2011, titled "Into the Abyss."
As with most collections of short comics, Into the Abyss is a mixed bag. There are some terrific stories here and some that are very spooky. There are also one or two that fall flat. You have to give the creators credit, though, because telling a story of any real volume is incredibly difficult when you have only one or two pages to work with. You have to cram your entire story into those pages and still manage to get your point across.
Fortunately, most of the writers and artists excel within this tight space. Bloodless by Joey Cruz is one such example, featuring a tale of a vampire ritual gone wrong. There is no dialogue. There is only the narration which explains the premise while a frightened man runs for his life from an unseen foe. Artist Matt Shults keeps Bloodless moving as the man flees through alleys and shadows in hopes of finding salvation.
Bouncing to a different kind of terror, There's No Such Thing as Monsters has a nice spin on the old monsters-under-the-bed story. Written by Marc Deschamps, the two-pager is one you could read to your kids with a nice message and just a smidge of fright.
Despite the high levels of quality with some of the stories, we have a handful of duds. Haint by Simon Collins and Colin Zelinski comes to mind. It's one of the longer comics in the collection with three pages, but most of them are close-ups of a boy and his mother talking over coffee. The artwork is a little weird as both of them look like they're wearing a heavy amount of eye shadow on their large heads.
Lucky Sweater by Ben (no last name) is a fun little story, but the art killed it. It's a humorous tale of a haunted sweater, but everyone is depicted as stick figures. It's like he's not even trying. When you're flipping through a comic with some pretty decent art and come across these two pages, it's a bit of a let down. This counts? It's unfortunate too, because the story is actually pretty smart and funny.
I could nitpick each individual story contained within The Gathering, but I'd be here for awhile as this is a 52 page comic. I love the premise of the collection and that they've dedicated not one, but two issues to horror. While there are a few zombie stories, you won't be bombarded by the undead like every other horror comic out there nowadays. There's a wide variety of topics from vampires and ghosts to monsters, serial killers, and one really pissed off cat. At the very least, you should check out this volume for a peak at some new and emerging writers and artists that are sure to become more popular on the comics scene.