Storm King Comics 2021
Written by David J. Schow
Illustrated by Andrew Esparza
Coloured by Sergio Martinez
Lettered by Janice Chiang
HELL #5 (of 8)
IT'S HELL DOWN HERE IN ... HELL. Stef, Samples, Capt. Lamb and the entire CalEx strike team have incurred casualties the moment they set foot into the blistering purgatory of the Underneath. They are the first human beings to venture into this alien landscape, with a convicted murderer, a drunken scientist, and a half-human, half-reptile native as their "guides." But first they have to contend with an entirely new enemy ... a previously unglimpsed form of armored, mantis-like soldier bred solely for combat, engineered to protect and kill!
We have a very interesting opening happening here as we see at least one person survive the nightmare that they’ve all entered. There could be more but at the moment we are only focused upon one of them. This of course leads us back down the rabbit hole where the remaining team members are quick to jump down and out of reach of the giant sand worms. I have to say that I do appreciate how we see the denizens of this realm as creatures we recognise if they are in gigantic proportions that in turn turn them into these huge monstrosities. It adds that little something extra to the mix that brings the creepy factor to a new level.
I am a fan of the way that this is being told. The story & plot development that we see through how the sequence of events unfold as well as how the reader learns information is presented exceptionally well. The character development that we see through the narration, the dialogue, the character interaction as well as how they act and react to the situations and circumstances which they encounter does a magnificent job in bringing these characters to life. The pacing is excellent and as it takes us through the pages revealing more of the story we’re left slack jawed at just how brutal an environment this truly is.
How we see this being structured and how the layers within the story continue to emerge, evolve and strengthen is magnificent. The layers here add so much depth, dimension and complexity to the story through the characterisation and the actions we see taken. How everything works together to create the story’s ebb & flow as well as how it moves the story forward is beautifully achieved.
The interiors here are bloody brilliant. The linework is fantastic and how we see the varying weights and techniques being utilised to create this level & quality of the detail work that we see throughout the issue is absolutely gorgeous. How we see the backgrounds being utilised to enhance and expand the moments as well as how they work within the composition of the panels to bring out the depth perception, sense of scale and the overall sense of size and scope to the story is utterly marvellous. The creativity and imagination that we see on display throughout the issue is dynamite and it enhances the creepy and horror factors exponentially. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show a masterful eye for storytelling. The various hues and tones within the colours being utilised to create the shading, highlights and shadow work shows a great understanding for how colour works.
The way that we see things escalate as they go from section to section means the remainder of the team has little time left to accomplish what they hope to do and find a way to get out of there alive. While this landscape is far from idyllic at first glance it also just looks like a cavernous underground lair so this belies the hidden dangers that they face. With some absolutely amazing writing and dynamic characterisation that goes hand-in-hand with these bloody brilliant interiors will forever change the way you view Hell.