"The Gathering: Volume 6 - Further into the Abyss" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by GrayHaven Comics
Edited by Andrew Goletz, Doug Hahner, Glenn Matchett, and James O'Callaghan
2011, 52 Pages
The Gathering returns to the horror genre with Further into the Abyss. GrayHaven Comics' first spooky issue collected a nice assortment of titles that embraced the topic of horror. They upped the ante for the second volume, which includes some impressive talent and up-and-coming creators.
The comic is an anthology, so each author is given just a few pages to tell their story. This is no easy feat and some of the writers rose to the occasion. As with the last horror issue, there are one or two that aren't up to par, but they are few and far between.
I found myself bookmarking many of the stories throughout Further into the Abyss. There are some that have these great twists in them that don't pop up until the very last panel, tying everything together. This is the case with The Mistress by Sterling Gates, which is probably my favorite of the bunch. Illustrated by Cassandra James, the tale is your basic woman-out-to-kill-her-husband-and-run-away-with-her-lover approach. Everything seems totally run of the mill at first, but it isn't until the end of the comic that the true reason for her husband's time away is revealed. It's a nice showing with some gorgeous art from James. She has a classic look to her work that really shines through here.
Similarly, Perdition from Evan Valentine and artist Sam Tung takes the idea of a woman in hell seducing a demon and turns it cute...until it makes it horrifying. Tung's artwork is a little cartoony, which makes the events of the book very fun. There's a panel where the pair of them sneak past Cerberus, the three-headed guard dog of hell by throwing a stick. It's a subtle move but works so well.
On the other end of the spectrum, the only story that I really disliked was Ye of Little Faith, written by Douglas Hahner and illustrated by Arcadio Bolanos. The story itself is pretty bland with a supposed werewolf showing up at a church to hunt a nun, only to have things turned upside down. This wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the art. It looks like this was given to a sixth grader to draw. The forms are all wrong. Perspective is out of whack. The shading is awful. Bolanos actually contributes another story called Threnos which he wrote, but did not draw. That one is far better.
The rest of Further into the Abyss is filled with other quality short stories. From Jack, Unblinking to Hunting Season to The Tipper Ripper. I liked the previous horror volume of The Gathering, but this one just improved so much on that formula. The folks at GrayHaven are already hard at work at the next horror issue, but it's not due out until the Fall of 2012. I'm looking forward to what they have in store.