"The Woods #4" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by BOOM! Studios
Written by James Tynion IV
Illustrated by Michael Dialynas
2014, 24 Pages
Comic released on August 6th, 2014
After their school and everyone in it were transported to a strange alien world, things have been pretty tough for the students at Bay Point Prep. A small group of them went into the forest looking for answers, while the remainder of the student body and faculty did their best to come to terms with their new status quo. People have died. Martial law is being established at the school. It's safe to say that it's the worst field trip ever. From the looks of things, James Tynion IV's The Woods is only just getting started.
The story is split into two parts. Maria, the student body president, is trying to talk some sense into the faculty and other kids. Coach Clay has convinced the principal to lead with a heavy hand, which has led to some students being held captive while the adults try to figure out what to do. Maria has been rebelling against this and demanding a say in what is going on. This is their lives they're talking about and no one really knows what to do. They've already lost a few students to some ferocious beasts that attacked the school. How can they hope to survive this harsh new land if they can't stop hurting each other?
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Meanwhile, the group of six kids that ventured out into the forest has been split in half. Adrian has found a ziggurat and he can't not investigate it. There's been something strange calling out to him since the school landed here. It's not unlike the alien voice in Stephen King's The Tommyknockers. He seems to be the only one with an idea of what's going on, but he has not revealed this information to anyone else yet. Based on how he's acted so far, he's probably the last person you want with that kind of power. He's one acid vat away from becoming a super villain.
The ziggurat itself adds a new layer to The Woods. What is it? Why is it here? Why are there different languages written on the walls inside from all different times? It looks like the Bay Point Prep kids are not the first ones to enter the building.
Karen has been the standout character in The Woods, not only from a story point of view, but with her growth and development. The series started with her realizing that she doesn't really have any attributes to allow her to excel. She's lived in the shadow of her friend Sanami, who lived like the Swiss Family Robinson for a bit. This situation has given her a chance to break out of the mold she had cast herself in and branch out. Karen tells a touching story about going hunting with her father that explains a lot about her as a character.
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Artist Michael Dialynas brings a level of normalcy to The Woods. These kids could be from anywhere. You could have seen them at the mall. They could have bagged your groceries. Imagine some local teenager suddenly thrust onto an alien world where he's battling a pack of four-eyed green tigers and running for his life. Dialynas' artwork can occasionally make you forget that the students are not on this planet. When they come across some new terror waiting for them in the trees, it comes as a gut punch.
There's also a sense of awe and wonder in Dialynas' pencils, especially with Adrian. Although there's definitely something off about the boy, you can't help but get pulled in due to his enthusiasm. I want to find out the secrets of this world just as much as he does.
The Woods captures the terror of the unknown and wraps it in a flurry of teenage hormones. These kids aren't going out into the forest to make out. They're trying to find a way to survive before they're all taken out by mutant bats or other strange creatures wandering through the darkness.