"Untold #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Written by Daniel Farrand
Illustrated by Johannes Vick
2016, 32 Pages
Alice had a very close relationship with her grandfather. The two were practically inseparable until he became “poorly” and went away. (I had never heard this word used this way and I'm still not entirely sure what it means. I wonder if it's a British idiom I just don't understand.) Eventually, Alice finds out that ol' pop-pop has been shuffled off to the looney bin and there's some sort of dark force at work within those walls. We don't know what's really going on in the asylum just yet. After all, this is only Untold's first issue. That being said, there's not much of a hook here. It's very little to work with in terms of concept.
While I understand Alice's sadness about the disappearance of her grandfather and the radio silence she gets from her parents, she's a complete bitch to everyone she meets. This includes cursing and screaming at her mother and father, who are also assholes because they just won't say anything about gramps. It's weird and more than unusual. You'd think if they were trying to cover up what really happened to him, they'd at least come up with some kind of cover story instead of just saying he's “poorly.”
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There's also a large disconnect with Alice's story and the chilling yet disturbing opening pages featuring a surgeon mutilating a little girl. Although we only see this man for a few pages, he's far more interesting than Alice, even though he goes a bit too far in terms of harming a child. These images are also the most detailed in the book. Artist Johannes Vick delivers some fine pencil work with an excellent use of shadow.
There are several other shots that feature this same level of detail, yet it's rather inconsistent with some pages looking as if they were completed by a different artist. These other images appear rushed and unfinished with awkward character poses, like they were action figures left out by a child. Vick shows some great art direction and panel layout as well.
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Color is used sparingly and for the most part, effectively. The opening pages feature a startling splatter of red for blood and later on a woman appears in a vibrant red that really pops from the page. What's odd is the two-page spread of the asylum, which is fully colored. Of all the pages to provide this work, the establishing shot of the building would not be a first choice.
Untold is a confusing jumble of ideas. There might be a good story in here if it's polished a bit more. Most of the time is spent establishing the healthy relationship between Alice and her grandfather and the dysfunctional one between her and her parents. This would be intended to make Alice more sympathetic, but fails to do so. Without this, we have a few unsettling images and not a whole lot else.