North 40 #1
Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Now Entering Conover County
Conover County is a typical American town – except for the monsters.
Writer: Aaron Williams
Art: Fiona Staples
Letters: Rob Leigh
Editor: Scott Peterson
Publisher: DC Comics/Wildstorm
Conover County seems like any of a thousand other small-town American communities. Normal people, normal problems. Until a couple of youngsters get their hands on a decidedly nasty book that should have been kept off-limits to the town library. They recite an ancient incantation, and when the night falls, the terrors begin.
Aaron Williams is best known for his lighter fare, like Nodwick or the brilliant PS 238, so this horror story is something of a departure for him. In truth, the book reminds me a lot of Rising Stars or Heroes, except instead of a sudden inundation of superpowers, the people of the community instead find themselves transforming into monsters. Of course, the town isn’t entirely without protectors – some of the people who fall under the curse find some rather useful abilities as a result, and one girl in particular seems destined to stand against the darkness.
Williams manages to blend that sensibility with the small town life with a dash of Lovecraft for good measure. While he doesn’t abandon his sense of humor entirely, the comedy in this book is a great deal darker than what fans of his would be accustomed to. He’s really branching out with this book, and from a storytelling standpoint, it’s a real success.
Fiona Staples is a good choice for the artwork. Her characters have a good feel – they look different from one another, so it’s easily to quickly distinguish them visually. But she’s really good at the horrors, the monsters, and the nasties that come crawling out of the night once things go bad.
This is a really good first issue – plenty of fun, and a story that feels familiar without seeming like a pastiche of anything that’s already been done. This is one of the most original horror comics I’ve read in quite some time.