Cats are notorious mischief makers, but “Bestie” takes it to another, more sinister level. Your Major Spoilers review of Hairball #1 from Dark Horse Comics, awaits!
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist; Tyler Jenkins
Colorist: Hilary Jenkins
Letterer: Tyler Jenkins
Editor: Daniel Chabon
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $5.99
Release Date: April 5th, 2023
Previously in Hairball: A young girl with a black cat begins to suspect the innocuous beast is behind all her troubles: her parents’ fighting, family plagues, and innumerable supernatural horrors.
WATCH YOUR STEP
Hairball #1 opens up with adoption papers being signed and a young girl being taken into a new home, along the way a stray cat joins her and is also welcomed into the family. That night the cat sinks its teeth into her arm and two demonic-looking worms emerge. As the issue goes on it becomes clear that life inside the home is not great as the two parents are constantly fighting. Sometimes over their perceived infidelities towards each other, sometimes about the other’s habits, but mostly about the young girl and the medical bills associated with her care. Intercut with these scenes is an interview with the girl and what appears to be a therapist of some sort. It’s here that she reveals that her cat “Bestie” has been speaking to her. Also, among the scenes of the parents fighting are scenes of Bestie coughing up hairballs that take on the appearance of parasites, as well as the feline appearing to have murderous intent towards the family.
A TENSE BUT REPETITIVE BUILD-UP
Hairball #1 is a great example when the focus seems to be setting up something bigger to come later, but doesn’t have as much attention given to making this particular issue interesting. The creators manage to pose a lot of questions in this first issue like: “Is the cat evil or protective?” “Is the cat actually doing anything or is it the girl’s imagination?” “What is the deal with the gross parasites?” “What’s really going on between the parents?”. All of these are intriguing questions that act as good, effective hooks to get readers into the next issue. But, this issue plays out like it’s a singular track set on repeat. The parents argue, the girl hears it, the cat does something shady, the girl talks to the therapist. This happens multiple times, without a ton of variation. It’s really only the last page where this repetition stops and we see a tonal shift. It’s not necessarily executed poorly, but there’s a lot of pages used here to make a point that was made in the first 10. The one thing that this repetitive approach does that helps the story is that it establishes most of the characters as unlikeable, which feels appropriate for what’s going on here. It doesn’t give the reader any clear person to root for or despise, even the little girl is somewhat undefined in terms of morality, which really drives home the tension.
PRETTY GROSS AND SPOOKY
In Hairball #1 the most striking thing artistically is appropriately, the hairballs. Anyone who has a cat who coughs up those nasty things will know that sometimes they are undefinable at best. That is what gets captured here whenever one of them is on page. Are their wings and a maw? Maybe. Are those eye stalks and tendrils? Possibly. If this part of the comic was better defined it wouldn’t be as effective and certainly wouldn’t be able to send chills like these do here. So it was a good choice. On top of that, the cat itself has this same sort of lack of detail that makes it come off as almost like a feline-shaped oil slick. It’s dark and sinister looking even while being still. All around the art is well suited to the tone of this comic.
BOTTOM LINE: A GOOD OPENING THAT COULD’VE BEEN 5 PAGES SHORTER
Hairball #1 toes the line between psychological thriller and body horror to create an unsettling narrative with a lot of burning questions. It takes too much time though to reinforce a scenario that is set up pretty early on, that doesn’t need much more attention than that. 3.5 out of 5 Stars.
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Hairball #1 is a pretty good comic with some subtle body horror and some not so subtle domestic drama. It has enough intrigue to warrant reading more, but overstays its welcome on its own.