North 40 #1


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North 40 #1


  • Words: Aaron Williams
  • Art: Fiona Staples
  • Inks: Fiona Staples
  • Colors: Fiona Staples
  • Story Title: Now Entering Conover County
  • Publisher: DC Comics/WildStorm
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Jul 1, 2009

North 40, a new series from WildStorm, brings Lovecraft inspired evil to the heartland. The story hits the ground running, as two young people, a goth girl and a D&D type open up an evil book they've acquired from the “restricted” section of the university on inter-library loan. Within two pages, the tentacles of forbidden evil spread out into Conover County and trap every creature within the confines of the county. What follows is an eclectic recounting of the effects of the evil influence on the residents. Some are transformed into winged beasts, people are swallowed up by beasts in the ground, others are granted some amazing powers, and still others commune with the evil itself.

Rural settings have a tradition in horror lore, notably Tremors and Children of the Corn, and more recently, the Jeepers Creepers franchise. Many of the familiar elements populate North 40, including teenagers sneaking around, a tough, no-nonsense sheriff character. The action jumps scenes so often in this first issue that it is difficult to get a real handle on any of them. It's still unclear who the main protagonist is, and this issue is much more a feast for the eyes than a tightly plotted tale. Given more time, I think Aaron Williams will slow it down a bit and give us deeper characterizations of the major players. There is so much here to tease us, but not much to satisfy.

The artwork by Fiona Staples is superb. Superior ink work, and magnificent watercolor washes really make this rural setting come alive. Her characters are distinct and real, with several overweight, middle aged, and young women all looking and acting like real people, not the glamorized cookie cutter renderings that all too often populate the world of funny books. She also does a great job with the monstrous and horrific elements of the script. I was shamefully unaware of her work before this, but won't make that mistake again.

It is a cliché in sales that you sell the sizzle and not the steak. Issue 1 of North 40 is all sizzle so far. Not to say there is not a big juicy t-bone waiting for us as the series progresses. I am definitely looking forward to seeing where this goes, and seeing all these characters fleshed out in more detail as well as discovering exactly what this Chthulu inspired evil has in store for the hapless denizens of Conover County. There is a great deal of potential here, and the art alone makes it worth a look.

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