The Returning is a brand new four part mini-series published by BOOM! Studios, written by Jason Starr (award winning writer of Tough Luck) and art by Andrea Mutti.
I have to admit, the cover immediately grabbed my attention. It certainly has the outward appearance of something that I would buy, with dark colours and a creepy atmosphere. Right away we’re introduced to the main character, Beth, in a hospital as she’s just awoken from a coma. Strangely, everyone seems to be terrified of her, nobody seems to be concerned about her. Obviously this is more than a little weird and quite the compelling introduction. After that introduction, we go back in time for the main story as it aims to answer some questions. It begins with the worst prom night imaginable, further leading to a series of traumatic events for Beth.
The Returning is all about people who have near death experiences or who die for a few minutes before being brought back to life. These experiences seem to turn people into mindless murderers. One of the most traumatising scenes takes place after the main character themselves has died. Instead of entering into a safe haven, getting away from the pain and struggles that life bring, she is tortured ‘beyond anything imaginable’ by terrifying red and white demons.
The artwork is very gritty and adds lot to the story. The realistic art really makes you feel more submerged in the comic book world, and you feel like you’re living their story with them. All of the scenes are very dark and have a thick, black border which helps to add more of an ominous aura to the comic. It is very difficult to work with negative space without making it overwhelming, so I have to commend the artist and the colourist (Vladmir Popov )for how well they’ve brought it together. As there are so many different types of scenes, ranging from serious hospital segments, to a teenage prom night, to a torturous hellscape, it shows the talent of the artist. Regardless of the shifts in scenes, the artwork remains impressively consistent throughout the entire comic. I loved the artstyle so much, I’m intending to go look up other work from them that I’ve missed!
Happily I can state that, like the art, the story did not disappoint at all, I was sitting on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. Beth is a likeable character and it’s easy to sympathise with her as her situation gets progressively worse. The wider mystery of the series is very engaging on its own, but since I’ve come to care for Beth as a character I want to read on regardless.
Altogether this is a good, gory story with blood, guts and some scenes of very graphic violence, it’s definitely one for the horror fans out there! Due its violent nature I wouldn’t recommend this to children at all, but it is a good pick for the everyday comic reader, or for a newbie who loves horror stories in other media.