ADVANCE Comic Book Review: Gravetrancers #1

These days I’m almost always ready to jump into a new horror story. Well more when in comic form than the movies. Either way adding another high concept horror book to the reading pile is nice for the new week. Gravetrancers is a four issue miniseries from Black Mask Studios written by M.L. Miller, art from James Michael Whynot, colors by Dee Cunniff, and letters by Jim Campbell.

Now when it comes to horror books these days, you are always first looking for that one thing that will set the story apart from the rest. The concept for Gravetrancers was truly thinking outside the box when we are dealing with a clan of grave-robbers who actually devise a highly-addictive drug made from human remains. I mean who does that? The unfortunate truth is that in many ways this could probably actually happen if someone were crazy enough to look for the next best high. Just the thought of it is unique since the norm is that grave-robbers dig up the corpses for their treasures, not for the bodies themselves. Much thought even went into how this became a thing and is still a thing. When you get into this level of craziness, sometimes it does help to try to make sense of things just a bit. Disbelief can only go so far at this point in time.

For Maribel and Anthony, I’m glad that not everything was as it seemed on the surface. Before flipping to that first page, I was picturing these two siblings who were naive and being foolish for indulging their curiosity. What we got from these two through their personality and characteristics quickly set them apart from other characters who are inevitably steering themselves into danger. Little time was wasted in understanding their intent for tracking down the grave of their estranged father as well. Both have different reasons for taking this trip, and both have very different experiences with the guy. At the end of the day they have a bond that is familiar if you are someone with a sibling(s).

From the minute these two approached the Malort Cemetery, the horror instantly kicked in. I liked that there wasn’t too much suspense or teasing of what was coming. It wasn’t a matter of who would create problems for Maribel and Anthony, but when they would get caught in this trap. These people they encountered did not take long to make your skin crawl because the way they carried themselves and the way they dressed was just off. Some might call that predictable, but that is only when you know exactly what is going to happen next. That was not the case here and when crap hit the fan, it became easier to welcome these characters who were more befitting of their appearance.

New artist James Michael Whynot and Dee Cunniffe on colors was a good choice for art team on a book like Gravetrancers. The style of artwork for them didn’t try to do anything but match the tone of the story. Nothing too complex, nothing too simple, just right there in the middle to create a proper visualization of creepiness and terror that the main characters are experiencing from the minute they step foot on this cemetery. Rough pencils in my opinion are the right touch when trying to capture a world that isn’t too stable around the characters. It helps with the character expressions as well. I really enjoyed Cunniffe’s colors here as psychedelic with neon-colors is the best way to describe this nightmare that they have been thrust into. both artists nailed that effect which is the main attraction for this first issue. When you are talking about the use of hallucinogens, the expectation is that things do get a bit trippy. That is exactly what took form visually and makes you worry about these siblings continued grasp on reality moving forward.

Gravetrancers #1 is a story that puts you on edge for all the ways a trip to a cemetery can go wrong. To me this felt like more of a mental thriller which is a great change of pace in contrast to some of the other horror books on shelves. One of the last situations you would like to find yourself in that will turn your world upside down. I don’t know how either of these two will walk out of this feeling anything like who they were before they arrived, if they even make it out of this, but that makes you look forward to and brace yourself for the issues to come.

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