"Curse #4" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by BOOM! Studios
Written by Michael Moreci and Tim Daniel
Illustrated by Riley Rossmo and Colin Lorimer
2014, 24 Pages
Comic released on April 16th, 2014
Laney Griffin is at the end of his rope. He's wanted by the police in connection to a series of grizzly murders. His young son Jaren is dying of cancer at a rapid rate. The werewolf, Anton, that is actually responsible for those killings is chained up in his basement. This is how the final issue of Curse gets started. Laney is getting desperate. His future – as well as that of his son – rests on the decisions he makes within these 24 pages.
What is made absolutely clear is how much Laney loves Jaren and is willing to do anything to save him. He's a former football player and tough as nails, but up until now he's been powerless to do anything to help his boy. That must be an agonizing feeling. You can see it on Laney's face in almost every panel. There's a faint glimmer of hope in his eyes, but it's hard to see behind all that sadness. He's latched onto this werewolf as an idea. He's just not sure what to do with him and time is running out for Jaren.
The werewolf presents an interesting twist in Curse. This could have been about a lone lycanthrope, roaming the countryside eating people each month until he gets caught by a rogue hunter. Instead, Anton is used almost like a mirror, showing the lengths that Laney is willing to go for Jaren. He's covered in blood and as the calendar gets closer to the next full moon, he begins to change with long nails and teeth until he's barely recognizable as a man.
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Anton's connection to Laney is somewhat of a stretch. It's a very convenient coincidence that makes their story far more personal. Not only does Anton become a symbol of hope for Jaren's survival, but he provides a sense of closure to another chapter of Laney's life that he's struggled to put behind him.
It's not very hard to discern what Laney ultimately has planned. After three issues, I'm honestly surprised it's taken him this long to figure it out. You've got a werewolf that's over 250 years old chained up in your basement and a kid on death's door due to cancer. What authors Michael Moreci and Tim Daniel pull from this is the emotion. The scene where Laney finally gets the three of them in a room together is simultaneously moving and terrifying. Here's this grown man holding his nearly lifeless son in his arms with a ferocious beast chomping mere inches away. He knows what the potential consequences are and he doesn't care if it means that he can save his boy.
The artwork in Curse has been balanced between Colin Lorimer and Riley Rossmo. The former has handled the pages dealing with Laney and his goings-on while the latter jumps in when the werewolf is on the prowl. This issue is no different. All of that emotion I mentioned above? It's amplified with Lorimer's artwork. He has a real talent for facial expressions, telling so much with just a glance. As Anton continues to change, he becomes more and more monstrous. There's one panel as Laney is walking down the steps of the basement where you get a full face shot of Anton just before he's fully transformed. It's frightening. He's covered in sweat and blood. One eye is bulging out. His teeth are growing sharp. It's the last glimpse of humanity within him before he gives in to the beast.
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When that beast comes out...damn. Rossmo's style lends itself well to pure carnage. When the werewolf is able to stretch its limbs a bit, it's like something out of a fever dream. It's all blood, teeth, and fur as it lashes out at anyone nearby. It's violent and pure, unfiltered rage.
It should also be noted that both artists contributed some dynamite covers for this issue. I've looked through both repeatedly and I can't decide which one I like the best. Rossmo's shows Laney standing in front of his house, holding a bear trap and chain with his shadow taking the form of a huge werewolf. Meanwhile, Lorimer's has a closeup of Laney as the werewolf looms behind him, its claws dripping with blood as they surround the man's face. This shot is almost devoid of color outside of the blood.
Although the werewolf is not the main character in Curse, it never lets you forget how dangerous it is and can be. It can symbolize what we're all capable of when our backs are against the wall. This finale is one of the best single issues I've read this year. Curse is solid tale that despite some predictability, surges forward with pure emotion and unbridled horror.
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