Page 45 Review by Stephen
How black do you like your humour?
Aunt Johnny is the resident mortician in the town of Manson. She's just pulled up at the scene of a traffic accident to be greeted by two cops in the rain.
"Some girl lost her head and drove into a truck."
"Other way round."
"Other way round, I'd say."
Ouch. As it transpires, they're both right.
RACHEL RISING is the only horror comic currently on the stands to surpass THE WALKING DEAD. Let's see if I can persuade you of that.
It began early one morning in a sequestered glade as an austere and impassive young woman waited patiently above a dried-up river bed until a leaf spontaneously combusted and another women, Rachel Beck, clawed herself slowly and painfully from her grave, then stumbled falteringly through the trees to make her way back home.
I can assure you of two things. The first is that Rachel's no zombie: she's perfectly sentient; she just can't remember who killed her. The second is this: she's most definitely dead.
Along with her best friend Jet, beloved Aunt Johnny and a girl called Zoe whose tender years and delinquent behaviour belie her true age and an enthusiastic tendency towards psychopathic violence, Rachel's been trying to piece together what happened to her, and it all harks back to a witch hunt in Manson and thence to the first woman in the world called Lilith.
Lilith failed in her first attempt to wreak revenge upon Manson for its genocidal past, but now she's back and she's going to attempt a more charming approach for which she will need the help of her sister. Any guesses who that is?
With five prior volumes I believe you've some catching up to do.
Given that this is from Terry Moore - the creator of ECHO and the epic STRANGERS IN PARADISE which managed to juxtapose tragedy, romance, comedy and crime so successfully that there are few series our customers are more fond of - I can promise you that you are in for a harrowing but hilarious and humanity-filled treat. Terry's books always focus on real women full of attitude but also failings and foibles and kindness rather than two-dimensional bravado, and that's reflected in his art for he draws fulsome curves where they are, rather than where our modern plastic, photo-shop surgeons dictate they should be.
Terry's is the sort of art where you can feel the soil when it grits beneath your finger nails.
This volume contains what is for me probably the most terrifying single suicide in comics, again in the rain and high above the unforgiving, rock-hard destination below. What makes it terrifying is not just its slippery surface but also its motivation whose agonising details we learn via Rachel. For Rachel - with one foot in the grave and another in some sort of earth-bound afterlife - has a bond both with the quick and the dead. She has the unenviable ability upon touch to divine what's gone before and then see what will come next. So be careful which questions you ask her.
It also contains one of the most blindingly beautiful moments in comics, right near the end, involving a single pair of eyes previously hidden from us for all five volumes. Not by deceit but by pragmatism, and because no one had ever bothered to look before.
So cleverly withheld from us by a visual device I will not divulge, it is a moment of perfect, spiritual satori and in its single, simple panel it moved me like few other comics this year.
"Why is your touch the other only thing I can feel anymore?"
"Because love is stronger than death."
You'll know it when you see it.