Written by Alan Grant / Pen & Ink by Glenn Fabry
With horror comics (and actually all comics in general), cover art is EVERYTHING. If the cover doesn't catch your eye, chances are it might not make it into your hands. Today I went looking for Creepy #3 (Dark Horse, 2010), which didn't hit the shelves yet. Instead I came across Church of Hell, in the "C" section of independent comics. The cover by Clint Langley & Rich Buckler blew me away: a bald, evil man with dark crimson eyes & jagged blood-stained teeth, centered within a circular back-drop of demons, soldiers of Satan engulfed in plenty of flames; with excellent use of reds & blacks throughout. It only took a quick skim through the pages for me to cough up $3.99 -- the artwork is amazing, with a heavy focus on realism and great use of colors & shadows that suck the reader in after only 3 pages. Cartoon-style simply would not work here.
Church of Hell is very unique, unlike any horror comic I've seen, with each story told in "arc" format with between 4-6 parts. I hadn't read #1 or #2 so I picked up in the middle of the story. But the good news is that Berserker Comics (the masterminds behind Church) is offering a FREE PDF of issue #1 right here!
Back to Issue #3: it begins with our main character, Dominic Raggar, strolling through what appears to be a Church in the depths of Hell and conversing with a Priest, who sends him back to the "real world." Trouble & terror follow Dominic's every move: he is haunted by visions of demons and experiences hallucinations while attending the burial of his best friend David (who we find out Dom himself killed!). After disturbing David's grave, Dom escapes from the police on a motorcycle, collides head on with an 18-wheeler, smashes into a woman crossing the street with her baby in a stroller, and ignites the police car that was in hot pursuit. Abaddon, Hell's Dark Angel, descends onto the scene and Dominic walks away with nothing but a few scratches . . . he is a vehicle for the Devil, and cannot be harmed.
Grant touches on the concepts of sin, redemption, and the complexity of unique situations that individuals face on a daily basis. The battle between good & evil is ever-present, with evil of course taking center stage. Grant builds on the "snowball effect" of sin, showing how little white lies can accumulate into much larger, more significant evils. Our villains (in this case, the demons) are crafted with such detail and care; they literally come to life in the comic.
I highly recommend Church of Hell to any fan of horror movies or comic books - the storyline is truly one of a kind; the artwork is out of this world & violent in all the right ways . It's great to see people breaking away from the confines of the recent "zombie trend" and taking a different path to horror -- a Satanic, psychological journey through the depths of Hell . . .