COMIC REVIEW: Spread #1

There is kind of an unwritten rule in some areas of art that ideas come along in pairs. Movies is the best example. Think Armageddon and Deep Impact which both came out in the summer of 1998 as a classic example. These works are rarely copies or rip offs, but the media and artistic climate tends towards a similar idea occurring at the same time, and then works of art appear with the same idea at the same time.

Justin Jordan, perhaps best known as the author of The Strange Talent of Luther Strode has a new comic book out called Spread. It is narrated by an infant, and appears to be the story of how she is rescued by an anti-hero type. This infant is probably special in some way. Ok, nobody mention Saga and we can take this comic for what it is.

The world has gone to hell in a hand-basket, to put it mildly. There is something called the Spread. The impact of this plague is that huge, bloody, tentacled, many-mouthed, monstrous things dominate. No (that’s his name) is immune. We’re somewhere cold. An experimental station maybe. Everyone has been hideously murdered. No battles a ‘survivor’ who has been infected, showing off his prodigious skills. His enemy exhibits just how the Spread affects people. Nice eyeball.

If you like the colour red, and you like John Carpenter’s The Thing, you’ll find plenty in issue #1 of Spread to enjoy. Overall, the idea of these huge, blood-red monsters in a snowy environment, alongside the anti-hero protecting the ‘special’ child is nothing new. Most of issue #1 is told via narration as the story is set. Dialogue and narrative are sparse. Jordan has a clear idea of his tale, but so far there is too much tell and not enough show. Which is odd, considering how visually dramatic the book is.

Kyle Strahm has drawn Spread. Although he’s a relatively unknown artist, it looks and feels like a Justin Jordan comic book (theycomics-spread-teaser both worked on Hack/Slash). It has the look of Luther Stroud. The artwork is rough and scratchy, adding to the punkish sensibility of the book. Some of the characters look less than human (although I don’t think they are meant to be less than…). The gore and horror are well drawn and interesting. The eyeball scenes are particularly yuk (in a good way) and there is an appropriate feel of nastiness and grunginess, as the world has descended into terror. The main feeling you take away is the red. Most pages have bright red, which contrasts with the snow. Some, however, are almost all red. All blood and guts. Those pages that aren’t are cold blue. It makes an interesting contrast and a bold statement, together with the visual characterisation.

Spread is far from a classic but has potential to be fun, once the story gets going. It must be hard to draw these kinds of monsters without expecting association to The Thing or Lovecraft, but the art stands out above the story in issue #1. Forget comparisons, however, and enjoy Spread for what it is. Gory, bloody, post-apocalyptic, anti-hero and special-child fun.

Title: Spread

Publisher: Image Comics

Rating: 3/5

Reviewer: Ian J Simpson

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