Overview

Severed #1

Review

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Severed #1

Credits

  • Words: Scott Snyder and Scott Tuft
  • Art: Attila Futaki
  • Story Title: "Part One: Nothing Wasted"
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Aug 3, 2011

Quietly chilling, Scott Snyder and company lay the foundations for a new horror classic in the tradition of Stephen King.

If you take a look around at what passes for horror fiction in today’s movies, comics, and prose, you’ll notice a trend towards slash and burn editing, gratuitous gore, a certain S&M mentality, and spectacle over substance. In the quest to become scarier than the next guy, viscera and fountains of blood have replaced good old fashioned storytelling, creating a generation of diluted horror-action brain candy targeting teeny-boppers looking for an excuse to cling to each other in the movie theater. If you’re a 16-year-old man-boy trying to cop a feel, then I suppose there’s nothing wrong with Saw 9 or the Final Final Destination (finally?).

Some of us like a little more craft and sophistication in our horror fiction, though. Creeping into stores next week, Severed #1 by writers Scott Snyder and Scott Tuft and artist Attila Futaki, reminds fans that it’s possible to create atmosphere, suspense, and chills using nothing more than solid character development, an evenly-paced plot, and a unique setting. You won’t find one drop of blood throughout this first issue, which is odd for a comic book called Severed but fitting as we’re made to understand the title doesn’t only refer to physical dismemberment.

Snyder and Tuft show remarkable maturity and restraint, laying the groundwork in this first issue with skill and patience. Loving grandfather and husband Jack Garron has always told people he lost his arm during World War One. It was an easy lie to tell. He’s the right age after all, and many young men sacrificed their lives and bodies in Europe’s vast No Man’s Land. Even his wife doesn’t know the truth. When Jack receives a mysterious correspondence from an “old friend,” he flashes back to his youth and begins to tell the real story behind his unfortunate dismemberment.

Severed’s strength lies in the Snyder and Tuft’s deft characterization and their ability to choose perfect storytelling moments. Choosing the right scene to depict is one of the toughest challenges in a visually static storytelling medium such as comics. Most of today’s rushed-to-print horror-action comics rely on gratuitous spectacle, muddy painting, and a horde of brain/bloodthirsty zombies/vampires to gloss over imprecise plotting. Snyder and Tuft are exceptional at crafting scenes of quiet exposition to establish relationships, setting, and mood. The flashback’s opening sequence between Jack and his mother is tender and genuine and perfectly sets up Jack’s difficult decision to run away from home to find his real father.

Attila Futaki’s style possesses a certain timelessness perfect for the tone of this story, as it moves between the early 1960s and Jack’s childhood during the Great War. His visual storytelling is clear and concise, refreshingly easy to follow and free of the popular muddy stylings of the Ben Templesmith mold of horror artists. It was a joy to move from one panel to the next, without having to reread entire sequences, a simple, basic task to be sure but one virtually impossible in a lot of modern painted horror comics.

Refreshingly simple and relying on craft, maturity, and clear visual storytelling, Severed #1 harkens back to a time when good horror fiction actually strove to scare the hell out of people – not just titillate or shock them.

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