"Underwinter #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written and Illustrated by Ray Fawkes
2017, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on March 22nd, 2017
A group of struggling musicians gets an unbelievable private gig playing for some rich folks. There are some bizarre stipulations, but the money is too good to pass it up. It's not like these people are serial killers or anything...right? That remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: this is creepy as hell.
The first thing you'll notice with Underwinter is the artwork. Ray Fawkes delivers images unlike anything you will see on the stands today. I will admit that it took me a few pages to truly appreciate it. It grew on me as time went on. He plays with forms, switching between well-detailed shots of people to rough sketch-like images where only the basic shape of a person or setting comes through.
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The colors are beautiful. Each page is filled in with what appears to be water color paint, giving the book some warm tones. This works to lull you into a false sense of security as Fawkes introduces the characters and establishes their world. The colors get progressively darker as the group gets closer to their destination and even more so once they start playing.
Underwinter is a slow burn, taking time to get to know the characters before plunging them into chaos. You get a good sense of the group dynamics so that they're almost like people you would have known for some time. This helps make them stand out as relatable individuals, which will in turn make us care all the more about their fates, although it goes on for a bit too long.
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There's an unmistakable unsettling feeling that permeates through every page. This, of course, grows as the book goes on. The issue is bookended by scenes of a nightmare showing disturbing images of a man being tortured. The opening pages shock you before you jump into the normal, day-to-day minutiae of the band preparing for a gig. That feeling does not go away.
Underwinter is a truly unique comic. It delivers a sense of foreboding that you can't look away from. You know that these musicians are about to enter into some crazy scary stuff and they're walking headlong into it seemingly none the wiser.