Sorrow # 1
Written by Rick Remender and Seth Peck; Art by Francesco Francavilla; Lettering by Ed Dukeshire; Cover by Kieron Dwyer; Published by Image Comics
Danni is a girl stranded in a small dusky desert town in the middle of nowhere thanks to the bad driving of her companion Sheryl’s boyfriend Matt’s bad driving (actually, Matt was apparently unnerved by a demonic vision that caused him to lose control of the vehicle). Based on what occurs after the trio, along with a mysterious hitchhiker, Dalton, crash and total Matt’s car, it would be safe to say that Danni is also stranded in a comic book series that bodes ill for her survival, mental or physical. Sorrow is evocative of a trope that has fueled countless horror films from brilliant (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) to utterly forgettable (Wrong Turn) – plunge a small and helpless group of young people into backwoods, unfamiliar terrain and see who and what horrors they encounter.
No sooner than the four endure the accident, they encounter some nameless folks obsessed with Buddy Holly, then a girl named Natalie and a little boy named John. Then they’re harassed by a hotheaded lawman named Evans, who’s none too happy about the accident. Evans’ inspection of Dalton’s bag yields a bag of tobacco, which the cop takes to be hard drugs apparently, and after he feels Dalton is being belligerent with him (he’s not), he beats and jails the hitchhiker. After hurling charming epithets like “Faggot” and “Cocksucker” at Dalton, he exhorts a woman named Alva to go “fetch” the Mayor. As the book winds up, we also catch another glimpse of the being that Matt saw.
If the word “apparently” has crept into this review a time or two too much, it’s because, obviously, the writers now have us on a hook, but we can do nothing to hazard a guess at what could possibly happen next. It’s this uncertainty that provides Sorrow with its suspense, and finding the answers as the series unravels will be what provides the frisson of the thing (and I do intend to review the entire series). The script by Remender and Peck is spare on details about our hapless quartet, but at this point it’s all about setting up a very tense scenario, which the duo of writers succeed admirably at .
Francesco Francavilla was an artist I was not familiar with until I saw his recent alternate covers for Dynamite’s Flash Gordon: Zeitgeist and Lord of the Jungle (starring Tarzan) series. Both of these were appropriate given the obvious influences of Flash artist Al Williamson and of Tarzan artist supreme Joe Kubert. By sheer coincidence, my wife had the Sorrow series and I was delighted to see Francavilla handling a whole book. The influence of Joe Kubert influence is especially pervasive; the classic Kubert brushstrokes and linework inform the illustrations thoughout Sorrow. Francavilla’s classic style brings class and weight to anything he touches, and his dynamic storytelling, hallmarked by wonderful panel pacing and arrangements, truly grips the reader.
The back cover is quite nice – a lovely illustration by Kieron Dwyer, who’s come quite far as an artist over the years. Francavilla’s back cover painting of Danni and the spectral being that caused Matt to crash is excellent as well.