One of my favorite comics right now is Image's 7 issue limited series Severed. It's a horror story set in 1916 that the writers describe as a "historical fairy tale". I'm a huge fan of horror comics in general, but there's something about this one that makes it stand out. So why should you give this book a chance? Here are 10 reasons why:
10. The art is gorgeous.
Attila Futaki is fairly new to comics, but he's a great visual storyteller. His beautifully rendered art is realistic, but has a sort of softness to it, like you're looking at a world where nothing can ever go wrong. His work makes the comics most intense moments that much more horrifying, and helps build a sense of dread when it looks like the worst might happen. Imagine if Andrew Wyeth or Norman Rockwell illustrated a horror story. That's what Futaki's work is like here.
9. It'll keep you up at night.
There are tense, creepy moments scattered throughout every issue of Severed, but the real horror doesn't kick in until you try to go to sleep. Severed is the kind of scary that sneaks up on you, that rattles around in your brain until you can't bear to close your eyes. I suspect that Severed's biggest scares are yet to come, but even now, it's a great book to read if you're looking to pull an all-nighter.
8. If you read it now, you can escape spoilers.
While Severed's first three issues have been plenty eventful, the biggest mysteries of the series have yet to be revealed. Who or what is the Salesman? What happened to Jack Gannon? How did that letter wind up in the hands of someone else, and what was it about it that left him so frightened? If you read through the series now, you can avoid having those mysteries ruined for you and enjoy being in suspense from issue to issue.
7. Every issue is accessible.
If for some reason, you can only get a hold of issue 2 or 3 of Severed, you can dive right in. Each issue is a standalone chapter that makes for a solid entry point to the series. Better yet, the issues begin with a simple and clear recap that tell you everything you'd need to know. While I definitely recommend reading every bit of Severed you can get your hands on, being easy to get into is always a good thing.
6. It's co-written by Scott Snyder.
Detective Comics. Iron Man: Noir. American Vampire. Swamp Thing. Batman. Scott Snyder's given readers plenty of reasons to trust that he'll give them a good comic. Knowing that he's at Severed's helm means lets you enjoy the book's mysteries without worrying that they won't be satisfactorily delivered on. Following creators is one of the best ways to ensure you enjoy your comics, and Snyder is definitely a creator worth following.
5. It's unpredictable.
One of the biggest failings of horror stories is that they're easy to predict. It's hard to truly be scared by something when you know it's coming. This isn't the case for Severed. We know almost nothing about the Salesman, which makes you feel like the story could go in any direction at any time. There were moments in the book's third issue during which I tried to reassure myself, but it never worked, because I felt like I was reading a book in which anything could happen. Its uncertain nature makes Severed a great read and an especially great horror tale.
4. It's a day and date digital title.
If you like reading your comics digitally, then you'll be pleased to know that you can download from both Comixology and Graphic.ly on the day of its release. I can vouch that the page look great on the screen, and that the story works well with Comixology's guided view feature. Right now, there's no digital price drop from month to month, but Image's day and date digital venture is still new, and it's very likely we'll see something like that in the future.
3. It's easy to get attached to the characters.
With the exception of the story's more villainous characters, everyone in the story has been likable and felt fairly realistic. It's because Jack's mistakes and naivety are so believable that the knowledge that something horrible is going to happen to him feels so heartbreaking. He and Sam have such a natural chemistry together, and I've already concocted some theories that will allow their friendship to survive this. Caring about the characters makes the tense moments of the series absolutely brutal, and makes the months between issues feel very long.
2. It's a great snapshot of history.
Reading through Severed, it's very clear that the creative team has done their research. From the painstaking detail of Jack's 1950's home to the way they use the depressing realities of the time period to the story's advantage, there are plenty of elements to appreciate outside the comic's main story. People don't write about the 1910's much in general, and the only comics I can think of set during this time are fairly fantastic in nature. It's really cool to see a comic dive so deeply into a period setting.
1. It's a great comic book.
If you've read this far, it should be clear that my opinion of Severed is fairly high. I love superhero comics, but mostly, I love comics as a storytelling medium, and Severed is the perfect example of serialized storytelling done right. Whether you're looking for a good horror story, a comic with interesting characters, or a book with beautiful art, Severed is a comic worth checking out. The first 3 issues are available online or at your local comic shop, and I really hope you give them a shot.