Writer: Jon Schnepp
Pencils: Massimiliano Veltri
Inks: Massimiliano Veltri with Marianna Pescosta
Colors: Fran Gamboa & J.C. Ruiz
Letters: Fabio Amelia
What They Say:
After a grisly mishap in a Halloween haunted house, a young man finds himself haunted by demonic specters. Wondering if he’s going insane, or if he is truly being followed by something sinister, he turns to his friends.
Content (please note that portions of review may contain spoilers):
Once again we find Jacob at his favorite watering hole complaining about his life and all of the injustices he has to face. The other patrons seem unfazed by his constant whining and agree the world is against him by disallowing what he can or can’t do, seeming to concede with his meaningless points. As he staggers off in a drunken stupor and wanders back to his decrepit apartment, the man remembers the only thing he likes in his life is the night job at the Creepsville Maze. The main reason he is enamoured by it is for the sway he has over the visitors, they come in expecting a fright and what they get is a loss of control over their environment. Jacob loves the power he has over them, the costume gives him anonymity and no one can complain since they voluntarily entered the building, all expecting panic which was restrained … not knowing he was there.
Once he arrives at work, Jacob once again begins to think about people who are against him, especially another employee named Susan. His memories harken back to the time he scared his father to death, even though they said it was a heart attack. People are like playthings to him, they are worthless in his eyes, and what joy it is to bring the thrill death to them as he scares that woman and another poor victim. Of course he doesn’t care as to the result and their insults are nothing, all that matters is the control he has over his prey, bringing worth to his life. But as the doors open and more poor toys come into his world, Jacob thrills at the pleasure of mastery, people running away screaming, pushing anyone who gets in the way down. It doesn’t matter if they care for each other, as long as Jacob has power, they will show their true colors and save themselves, then worry about the consequences afterwards. This is his dominion and anyone who enters falls under his reign, they are not in control … he is.
While this story might have sounded like a good idea on paper, the execution into a pliable medium which makes readers care about the character was lost in translation. I am not certain where writer Jon Schnepp came up with the premise of allowing a majority of the tale to be told through an internal monologue, but I was sorely tempted to drop the book several times while trying to understand it. Jacob’s endless ranting, his delusions of grandeur and god complex made for a narrative which was more like a manifesto than anything interesting. While it did begin as a plausible horror story in which a basis for further murderous mischief could have been achieved, it fell short in many ways, but mostly notably for his lack of not following through and the need to blame everyone but himself. As his delusions for control grew greater, so too did the confusion of what was reality and the inkling that this whole tale was a nightmare told as an afterthought through the eyes of a madman. Even if you wanted to try to comprehend this book, the ravings are endless, truth is twisted and all we hear is needless nonsense of blame by which I did finally get a headache. Then to make things worse, once we turn a certain literary corner, Jacob’s tale becomes repetitive and you stop caring what happens – all you want is for this stomach churning tale to come to a merciful end.
While ordinarily in a Grimm Tales of Terror story the artwork would be the salvation for a terrible narrative, in this case the illustrations of Massimiliano Veltri with inks by Marianna Pescosta only helped to magnify the crudeness of Jacob’s plight; then add the colors of Fran Gamboa and J.C. Ruiz and the resultant fiasco becomes something akin to a slippery slope from which there is no return. Although the detailing which the artistic pair filled each panel was captivating and drew us into the story and the richness of the palette only helps to enhance each picture, at the same time this synergy begins to work against the narrative by unconsciously making us notice every minute nuance as we delve deeper into paranoia. It is only after the story takes a sudden turn, by which our protagonist wants more control, does the marvelous combination begin to work against itself. As more elements are added to each page, the overwhelming effort of trying to keep up with the delusion becomes ever more confusing, making the reader’s focus split too much whereby you lose sight of what is happening within the tale. Too colors many inundate our eyes, what was once pleasing is now almost nauseating, with too much occurring to comprehend. While the illustrations and coloring may have followed the standard set by the title, the confusion within the narrative makes it a failure to communicate clearly what happens within pleasing tolerances.
The ravings of a madman may have been something which fit comfortably into the Grimm Tales of Terror series, but with too many repetitive musings, it quickly makes us lose interest. Too much blame and not enough action waters down the story and with artwork which vainly tries to keep up failing, the issue is a disaster waiting to happen. Then add to the confusion a narrative which tries to take on too much within a limited space and we end up with something akin to a train wreck with all the build up, but quickly derails into a fiery crash from which there is no turning back.
Rating: T (for Teens)
Released By: Zenescope
Release Date: November 22, 2017