COMIC REVIEW: ASYLUM #7 AND #8 / AUTHOR: SANDY KING, TRENT OLSEN / ARTIST: TOM MANDRAKE, LEONARDO MANCO / PUBLISHER: STORM KING COMICS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Created by John Carpenter alongside Thomas Ian Griffith and Sandy King, Asylum falls, unsurprisingly, under the supernatural banner. Despite his flirtations with sci-fi throughout his career, horror remains Carpenter’s most potent tool; being his first foray into comics, Asylum is the best thing he’s done since 1998.
Penned by King and Trent Olsen, The Barrens is a two-part story arc combining issues 7 and 8 in the ongoing series. Charting the impending battle in the City of Angels, where the devil bides his time, The Barrens focusses on King Leo, a blind man roaming limbo, looking for a man’s soul, but quickly loses himself.
The storytelling is simply stated, maintaining a sense of unease and darkness without the need for fanciful language. Tom Mandrake’s pencils and inks are a chaotic partner to the more understated text, looking like an angsty teen’s schoolbook. Issue 8 is the stronger of the two, with tighter storytelling and boasting a different art style from Leonardo Manco half way through.
It shares plenty of common ground with Hellblazer and even Robin Furth and Peter David’s Dark Tower series, adding in its own intriguing blend of fatalism and Catholic guilt. With the odd flourish of light relief to temper the weird, Asylum is the best horror comic you’ve never read.