An entire school full of students and staff have disappeared off the face of the planet… literally. But where have they GONE? Your Major Spoilers review of The Woods #1 awaits!
Previously in The Woods: “On October 16, 2013, 437 students, 52 teachers, and 24 additional staff from Bay Point Preparatory High School in suburban Milwaukee, WI vanished without a trace. Countless light years away, far outside the bounds of the charted universe, 513 people find themselves in the middle of an ancient, primordial wilderness. Where are they? Why are they there? The answers will prove stranger than anyone could possibly imagine…”
FIVE HUNDRED CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF AN EXIT
When it comes to trying a new comic book, as with launching a movie or selling your big novel, sometimes it’s all about a strong ‘elevator pitch’. The solicits for this issue (which I’ve quoted for the ‘Previously’) immediately gave me a Twilight Zone vibe, something which I’m an utter sucker for, and I was excited to see if the issue lived up to that pedigree. Our story starts with an interesting little vignette, followed immediately by an extended conversation between two teenage girls, talking about their college plans (and also how one of them didn’t really have any.) I’m happy to report that I was immediately drawn into the interaction, and those that followed, giving us a believable portrait of the daily life of this little Wisconsin high school. While some of the characters were familiar (the arrogant smart kid, the sporty girl, her super-driven best friend) nobody lives entirely in the realm of cliché, and the interactions of theatre geek Isaac and smart jerk Adrian are quite good. Cue strange occurrence, with flashing lights and strange effects, and suddenly everyone is shocked to see day has turned to night. When a few students venture outside (partly in panic), they are immediately buzzed by swarms of alien monster/insect creatures, and see that the sky is full of an enormous purple ringed planet rather than the sun. That’s when things start to get weird…
EXCELLENCE IN DIALOGUE
Tynion (not to be confused with Tyrion, who I think is somebody from ‘Game Of Thrones’) does a phenomenal job with the dialogue throughout the issue, and his Geoff Johns-style character descriptions (The Principal wants to strangle whomever told him to be a principal) are wonderful and super-descriptive. The art in this issue is also entertaining, and the double-page spread where we see the entire school building in its new location in the middle of the titular woods is a barn-burner. The use of color, especially after the incident, is amazing as well, with purples and blue-blacks changing everything that was perfectly mundane into a dark and somehow sinister landscape of evil…
…and then the windows start smashing inward, the better to allow carnivorous death bugs their lunch. At the same time, Adrian discovers a strange arrow-shaped monolith just outside the school, and declares that the only way to survive is to trek into the woods, and begins gathering people to accompany him on his (probably suicidal) journey. The second half of the story shakes down in the vein of The Chronicles of Narnia, or similar tales, and I really enjoy the them of “What Happens To Society And Humanity When There’s Neither Society Or Humanity Around”. Stephen King wrote a killer short-story called ‘The Mist’ about exactly that thing, and this issue reminds me of that story told with younger protagonists. Given how high I esteem King’s work, that should tell you all you need to know about how much I like this issue.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A STRONG FIRST ISSUE.
This book is a solid setup for an adventure, and doesn’t shy away from the danger inherent in the school’s new location (Poor Carrie!), leaving our characters on the precipice of a terrifying new adventure, and I’m definitely going to be following this title going forward. Tynion and Dialynas have created a world full of fully-realized characters, with a central mystery that I’m looking forward to seeing explored. (Here’s hoping that it’s not as drawn out as the central mystery of ‘Morning Glories’, a book that starts from a passably similar premise.) I’m unsure where or not it is an ongoing series or a limited, but The Woods #1 sticks the landing, with excellent dialogue, quirky-but-solid art and an intriguing set of central characters, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. If it keeps up this level of quality, this book could become the next ‘Saga’.