Review By: Mike Peluso
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Michael Dialynas
Release Date: May 7th 2014
Rating: 6 out of 10
Synopsis: 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.
Our Thoughts: There is a reason why High School is the most common setting for some of the most successful stories within American popular culture. Whether it be told on the big screen, television screen or even through a comic book, simply put; High School sells. And the absolute reason for that is what the High School setting creates with its viewers, and that in two words is, a connection. We have all either been or known the arrogant jock, the unpopular outcast, the super-hot and equally rude cheerleader, and following a story with these characters brings us all right back to home room. I’m going to speak a little out of genre here but The Breakfast Club is one of the most beloved movies of all time because the intelligent writing by John Huges covered all the basis. By having a brain, an athlete, a basketcase, a princess and a criminal all as your lead rolls, 99% of your audience is going to relate and become emotionally entwined with your story.
No genre in my opinion has benefited more by basing stories around high school youths more than the horror genre. The reason for that is where there are high school kids there is vulnerability and innocence. Watching these sheltered, pure teenagers struggle to survive against a diabolical antagonist provides an addictive anxiety viewers like me can’t get enough of. Writer James Tynion IV and artist Michael Dialynas present us with their twist on teenage survival in this brand new series from BOOM! Studious called “The Woods’’. Does this story provide the tension and angst of past high school based horror tales? Well, not exactly. Don’t get me wrong, I commend the atmosphere chosen for the backdrop within “The Woods”. I cannot say I’ve seen many High School survival horror stories take place on an unknown planet occupied by ravenous razor toothed bats! The brutality displayed early on in this book through Michael Dialynas superb artwork is as necessary as it is unapologetic. The problem is during the first few attacks on the students; my body didn’t react with that familiar cringe. Not only were the first few students introduced in “The Woods” #1 hard to relate and connect with, they were kind of annoying. It’s not hard to sympathize with characters you don’t care for or dislike, it’s nearly impossible. The dialog between the students didn’t make me connect to them but did bring a few out-loud laughs which I view as a positive. The sarcastic teenage humor was a highlight of “The Woods” #1 and it reminded me of something out of an “M Rated Archie” comic. Unfortunately, as much as the comic strip style humor helped the issue, it took something off of the tension that seems the series is trying to build. All in all it really comes down to the key word in that last sentence, build. This was only the first issue of “The Woods” so there’s PLENTY of time to “write” the ship and make this an intensely interesting series.
“Don’t Judge a Book by Its First Issue” is an excellent motto, but in my line of work it’s a motto quite hard to abide by. It would be ridiculous though to just give up on a series after one issue especially when it contains readability and great artwork as this book does. What’s your opinion on “The Woods” #1? Go check it out and let me know, it’s in stores now.