Doug Wagner and Daniel Hillyard bring us another series killer sicko who you can’t help but side with in ‘Vinyl’ #1 from Image Comics. A black comedy full of gory, guts and a great array of fascinating characters. The Manson Family meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with Charlize Theron cast in one of the main roles.
Writer Doug Wagner and artist Daniel Hillyard reunite on Image Comics’ new dark comedy thriller, Vinyl #1. And from the get-go you can tell it’s going to be another gloriously gory and goofy romp akin to their previous comedy-horror series, Plastic.
The opening pages are certainly a statement of intent for anyone not familiar with their previous collaboration. We are dropped in medias res of a particularly horrific and purposefully confusing scene that offers up a good look at one of the threats in this serial-killer series before pulling back and learning a little bit more about the set-up. Although the true identity of the shrivelled hag wielding a bloody axe in what seem to be a nursery room goes unanswered. For now.
As an opener it does everything a great horror film should do. As a reader I am immediately placed in an uneasy position. Not just from what I am reading, but by being placed in such a confusing situation which has the immediate effect of uneasiness on my part. With this scene fresh in my mind, I cannot help but relate everything else that unfolds in this issue to this dreadful eventuality. Great stuff! And rather a difficult trick to pull off in comics, but which has been replicated exceptionally well here on the printed page.
What is answered, however, is the relationship of the two men within this deadly chamber. One is an FBI agent pulled back into action to bring in serial-killer-at-large, Walter, in a game of cat and mouse that Dennis – our retired Fed – is getting tired of playing. Walter, meanwhile, seems an elderly gentlemen who you wouldn’t think had it in him when you first lay eyes on him.
And within just a few pages Hillyard’s eye for capturing the essence of a character expertly well is wonderfully evoked in just these first three players. The Fed, the shrivelled slasher and Walter. The latter being a man who’s got a lot more to him than meets the eye and someone the FBI have clearly underestimated.
In just one issue, Wagner does it again. With the introduction of a far bigger horror – that’ll be the Bellini Family Sunflower Cult – one cannot help but find themselves siding with Walter, who if nothing else is fiercely loyal to those he thinks fo as friends. Even if the feelings aren’t reciprocated. Well, not yet anyway.
Of course, this is comics, and within the context of this – and the dark humour – one is allowed to empathise with Walter. Hell, it’s encouraged! A man who comes across, on the whole, as a care-free spirit. Just one with a kink for music and killing folk.
As the issue progresses we meet further characters and a worrying suggestion that there may very well be a network of killers out there communicating with one another and organising themselves! God, I’d hate to be a member of that workers’ union.
After just one issue we have mystery, thrills and spills (guts, that is, spoiling here, there and everywhere) and the savage beauty that is the all-female cult’s leader, Madeleine. A truly beastly beauty who has her own take on loyalty too. That, and a very exciting cliff-hanger that only has me wanting more. And now! Family and friendship has never looked this bloody or beautiful before!
Vinyl #1 is out Wednesday June 23rd from Image Comics
You can read my interview with Doug and Dan right here, right now, to learn more about this new series.