Are you looking forward to a new comic book but it’s impossible for you to wait for its release before you know what we thought about it? That’s why there’s DoomRocket’s Advanced Reviews—now we assess books you can’t even buy yet. This week: ‘Everything’ #1, out September 4, from Dark Horse Comics.
THIS ADVANCE REVIEW OF ‘EVERYTHING’ #1 IS SPOILER-FREE.
by Arpad Okay. There’s absolutely nothing strange about the mall in Everything. There’s no reason it should worry you. The whole town is a picture postcard, and what makes for better memories than society’s achievements in concrete set against a backdrop of nature? Your breakfast is crawling with ants but Everything’s got something for that. A dollop of booze in your coffee will numb you to the world. Christopher Cantwell and INJ Culbard have the details on how to profit off the American heart of darkness.
A store called Everything is a symptom of the disease, the rat race and its pleasures. It’s a Twilight Zone story that takes normal and pretzels it into impossible horror. A warning, like a fable, of what in man and his creation will destroy us, of the mess inside of us. The indefinite threat of the shopping center feels like Philip K Dick paranoia. But evil forces coming for the Mall of America as well as your immortal soul? Seems plausible.
Despite 80s and horror and mall, Everything is surprisingly light on nostalgia. I think that Cantwell and Culbard wanted to tell us something that feels like Clive Barker or John Carpenter and the trappings are for authenticity. Everything doesn’t have a lot of flash, it’s a slow boil of uncertainty and dread. The placidity of the Midwest setting works to the benefit of the mystery.
Everything is Faustian horror. You trade your time for money. You are not your own, you are goods and services. Everything is a warning that when purchase becomes paramount, it’s a bar in the cage. A conduit that takes power from all involved and sends it back to the home office. A ghost sings sirens’ songs in the street because the city is a cancer overwhelming the natural world, paved with purchased comfort.
The real horror here is anxiety. Like Ice Cream Man, it’s a Tales from the Crypt concerned with individual wellbeing. They share the sentiment that worse than death is the loss of one’s soul. And the world of Everything, even without whatever’s coming, is bleak as ours is. Keeping a grip on one’s sanity is no mean feat immersed in violence and despair and all the other mundane atrocities of normal American life.
Culbard’s boisterous and cartoony style is dialed back to suit Cantwell’s tone, but again the look of a clean, professional, classic draughtsman is perfect for depicting an era when advertising and illustration were still synonymous. A potent dash of innocence goes a long way. There are still tells, the fluid body language, the heavy shadows of folded cloth, there are some great faces in this book, but mostly the whimsical and retro airs of BD are restrained. I’m feeling Steve Dillon with less sneering.
Culbard’s colors bring an intensity to the art that is rich and clear. The palette is largely somber, saturated, Paint-By-Numbers to go with Cantwell’s 1980 Wish Book. Culbard has a love of the properties of light like a painter. Lapis lazuli and a red that presses against the cornea. Pinball between the two beams of a police siren or dissolve into a white glow, an escalator ride into light like mist.
There is clarity and intensity to be found in Culbard’s faces and expressions as well. The mouth says something and the eyes say something else and the reader just feels constantly gaslit by every aspect of Everything.
Everything is haunted, disturbing, confusing, compelling. It is the inkling of a bigger story that demands time and pause. It is By the Pricking of My Thumbs: The Floppy. The little details, the dreamy lapses into the supernatural, are best when you’re savoring this story. Everything eschews the model of the serial in favor of mystique while still presenting a beguiling debut.
Berger Books / Dark Horse Comics / $3.99
Written by Christopher Cantwell.
Illustrated by INJ Culbard.
Colored by INJ Culbard.
Edited by Karen Berger.
8.5 out of 10
‘Everything’ #1 hits stores September 4.
Check out this 4-page preview of ‘Everything’ #1, courtesy of Dark Horse Comics!