Writer: Brian Studler
Artwork: Deivis Goetten
Colors: Maxflan Araujo
Letters: Fabio Amelia
What They Say:
Deep within the Bridgewater Triangle lies what’s left of the Taunton State Hospital. Originally known as the State Lunatic Hospital, opening in 1851 as a psychiatric health facility, it housed serial killers Anthony Santo, Jane Toppan, and Lizzie Borden. Though long since abandoned, the horrors within the remaining walls lie in wait for unsuspecting travelers to discover the true terror inside the darkest of crevices.
Content (please note that portions of review may contain spoilers):
As the night continues on, Danny is persuaded by his friends to tell more stories concerning Hockomock Swamp and this time he relates of a location that used to be nearby – the old Taunton State Mental Hospital. But when Rachel chimes in wondering why he states it used to be there, the teller relates the building was torn down almost a decade ago, but not without its involvement within local legends. It is then does Blake question if this was where Lizzie Borden was incarcerated after the infamous slaughter, to which his friend corrects this misconception and instead informs them of another female serial killer kept there – someone named Jolly Jane Toppan. While she was popular with her fellow nurses earning the nickname Jolly Jane, there was a dark side to this woman which no one knew … she liked charming her patients then killing with strychnine as she sat by to their witness passing, supposedly receiving a masochistic thrill watching them suffer. It was only after her thirst for death became too much did she become careless, haphazardly murdering four people from the same family to which the authorities caught and committed Toppan to the asylum.
After the unsettling tale settles in and everyone parts to pursue more interesting nocturnal activities, it is not until the next morning do Blake, Rachel and Sam wake early to find no one left in the camp allowing them to go for a hike. However as they venture deeper into the swamp the undergrowth becomes thicker and marshier resulting in the trio becoming lost, but as they wander around trying to find a way out they are shocked to find a horrifying sight: rusted wheelchairs, crutches and artificial limbs suspended from the surrounding trees in odd sculptures, with dried blood caked on some of the surfaces. Although they wished Danny were here to enlighten then about these curiosities, the group forges forward toward a decrepit building in the distance only to find something that should have been impossible – the remains of Taunton State Mental Hospital. While the girls question if it was safe to go inside, Blake reassures them there is nothing to worry about and it should be a great chance to take some pictures to show their knowledgeable friend – even if their suspicions warn them from entering this ominous and obviously condemned structure.
As we become more engrossed by writer Brian Studler’s fascinating tales of terror woven within the Bridgewater Triangle, one cannot but wonder how much of this issue’s narrative is based on truth and surprisingly the location and Jolly Jane Toppan are hauntingly real. It is this authenticity that creates a morbid curiosity within the reader that makes them want to investigate, all in order to solidify fact from fiction to attain a sense of control over this literary nightmare. One cannot but conjure the despicable acts of this Angel of Death within your imagination and it is made more tortuous as Danny tells of her escapades before the field trip, creating an inkling of what may happen once they arrive at the supposedly destroyed facility. And yet even as this sense of actuality is made manifest, one cannot but think of how Studler might have taken the overall ending scenario from popular sources concerning parabiosis or warping the true meaning of living beside other organisms as from H.G. Wells novel The Island of Dr. Moreau or horror film The Human Centipede with a touch of other terror films leading into the tension. It is frightening to think anyone may have mangled these twisted monstrosities in real life and yet the idea had to have come from somewhere other than nature, thus sadly if one looks back on history this type of scientific curiosity is certain and only needs the cruelty of man to make it a tool for holocaustic perversions.
And yet even with such a perverse conclusion, one cannot but stare at the hauntingly serene stillness created by Deivis Goetten’s fantastic opening with dizzying attention to detail via his amazing illustrations, all as Maxflan Araujo gloriously paints a wondrously muted display with subtleties via campfire to bring out visual nuances which only a lack of illumination could highlight. And yet the flashback of Jolly Jane is especially creepy by only giving her smug visage color to allow us to focus on this vile woman and her victims, the black and white environment being swallowed up via this excellent technique to make the reader center in on her detached actions and lack of emotions. However even amid all of this haunting suggestiveness presented by Goetten’s moving atmosphere, he does not allow us to forget this is mainly about a group of teens who only have one thing on their minds – swampy midnight rendezvous and all of the benefits of camping in isolated surroundings. It is this untouched wilderness which allows Araujo to paint these scenes with such breathtaking colors, especially the coming sunrise which is so vibrant you forget this is deadly terrain, which blends in so well with the next display of the discard medical equipment hanging from the native canopy, permitting the viewer to think they are part of the natural environs. But this disarming presentation is nothing considering what follows next as we close in on the sanitarium, the horrors of discarded delusions and what will give me nightmares for time to come – the first showing of the location’s true purpose … that little girl haunts me every time I see her and will remind us the worst is yet to come.
Grimm Tales of Terror Presents: The Bridgewater Triangle continues to surprise readers with stories which are hauntingly moving as we experience it through the actors, and yet the brutality is not dependent on gore to get its point across, instead relying on psychological thrills for the chills. Then add the excellence of an artistic team that knows how to amplify the nuances of environmental scenery, and we have a series that continues to surprise with visual sophistication on par with any modern horror film. While the stories may sometimes rely too much on those same movies for foundational inspiration to anchor the reader to old tales of Hockomock Swamp, one cannot deny the mixture creates a unique landscape which never forgets the audience must relate with the characters in order to have the sense of suffering which connects us all to these unforgettable tales.
Age Rating: T (for Teens)
Released By: Zenescope
Release Date: October 30, 2019