By Will Holden
Publisher: Vault Comics
Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Sally Cantirino
Colourist: Dearbhla Kelly
Letter: Andworld Design
Designer: Tim Daniel
I Walk With Monsters is the story of Jacey and her companion/guardian, David as they hunt down and execute child abusers and psychopaths across America. Years prior, Jacey and her brother, Jake, were victims of abuse at the hands of their father. Eventually Jake is palmed off, as if nothing more than a bargaining chip, to an “Important Man”. Jacey can only remember the man’s face but is always on the lookout for any hints or clues as to who this man could have been
Jacey is joined by David, who is a man with a very chequered history himself but provides fatherly support and, oh, did I mention that David can turn into a shadow-dog-monster? This also provides him the handy ability to sniff out abuse. David can literally smell abused children and their abusers and with this power Jacey and David carve a bloody trail of existential revenge, and more straight forward vigilante justice, all leading to finding the “Important Man”. The origin and lore of the monster David becomes is not explained in the book and I can imagine some readers finding this a little annoying, but the actual story being told here is not about the obvious monsters, with dripping fangs and burning eyes, but instead about the monsters who are able to hide in plain sight, even being upstanding members of a community.
The art by Sally Cantirino works very well with the story. Although the character designs and expressions border on the cartoony side (which I must add, I really like) the images of David as the monster are truly horrifying and effective. Sally Cantirino also does not shy away from the viscera and gore in the aftermath of David letting loose. A lot of the story is told via the art, silent facial expressions and actions often speaking louder than the word balloons surrounding it.
The colouring duty, upheld by Dearbhla Kelly, has been handled excellently. I was actually quite surprised by how colourful the book is, I’d even go as far as to say it’s vibrant in some parts. As a comic in the horror genre, I would generally expect something more muted, and while I think the art team deal with darkness and shadows extremely well, it is the contrast with the bright, colourful, unknowing, outside world that really strikes a chord. The sense that all of this abuse happens under our noses while we enjoy the sunshine is very effective.
On occasion the pacing seems a little rushed. The story unfolds in pieces and questions from both Jacey and David’s pasts are only answered in later issues. Initially, this can feel, as a reader, like you are presented with information without any background, you often get the reveal without the set up. However, as you continue to read these gaps are filled in and by the last page, I couldn’t remember a thread left untied. The ending of the story has aspects that seem to come a little out of nowhere and are a little convenient, which is compounded by the fact that the monster’s finer details remain a mystery, but overall I liked where the main characters end up.
This comic has a pretty original monster story which reflects on the ethereal monster within each of us and, despite having minor reservations about the execution I very much enjoyed my read of this book and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a short-run horror series.
4 shadow monsters out of 5.