Scott Snyder, scribe of “American Vampire,” “Detective,” and the recently relaunched “Swamp Thing,” and upcoming “Batman” teams up with his pal and co-writer, Scott Tuft, to give us a horror story set in the 1910s, following Jack Garron, a young man out to find himself.
This issue, like the one before, is shipped under a cover depicting a disturbingly creepy individual tearing back the blood-red cover in a manner not unlike Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of Jack Torrance from “The Shining.” The image is a chilling masterpiece that fittingly offers a sample of the interiors of this book.
There are two tales at work here, depicted by the train and the peekaboo creep. The train represents the continuing adventures of Jack Garron, a runaway who happened across a photo of a man playing violin to a baby in his crib. That photo was packed with a violin. That baby is Jack, the man playing is apparently Jack’s true father, and the violin is their connection. In the first issue, Jack made his way onto a train where he found the means to get to Chicago to meet up with his father, but in doing so may have lost his violin.
Befriended by Sam, another similarly-aged vagabond on the train, Jack regains his hope in this issue and, in doing so, runs afoul of the drunkard who took it. Outmatched, Jack finds that he may get far more action than he expects. That tale leads to a surprise about Sam. It’s not a surprise I saw coming, but it certainly makes sense and adds to the story, and as dark as the rest of this story is, it provides a nice breather.
The second story, represented by the hand and face busting through the cover, turns back to the man with the shark’s teeth from the first issue. He turns up again in this issue, and is every bit as unsettling while bringing charm along with his creepiness. Snyder and Tuft make this character every bit the polished villain of the piece as a Doctor Doom or Joker would be in a superhero tale. There’s no doubting this guy is the bad guy, but the way he goes about his badness makes him frighteningly compelling.
Through the events of this issue, it seems as though his path is set on a collision course with young Jack Garron’s. In the meantime, however, Alan Fisher from Toledo finds that the man with the shark’s teeth has some more devious plans.
Through it all, Attila Futaki draws some of the most beautifully disturbing artwork I have seen in a while. Futaki has a style that draws as much from the work of Norman Rockwell and Winslow Homer as it does Joe Kubert and Berni Wrightson. The realism of the characters and the settings is nearly tangible and the expressions convey emotion that is so familiar that I couldn’t help but feel as though I have been reading about Jack and Sam for more than two slim issues.
This book really concerns me. I’ve found much of Snyder’s work to be entertaining, engaging, and even compelling. I have yet to read a bad story from Snyder. This story, co-written with Tuft, is a different level of disturbing. The intrigue I feel and the compulsion for more story about a character who is every bit as disturbing as Hannibal Lector has me really wondering if there’s something wrong with me. This story – featuring the man with the shark’s teeth – has sunk those teeth into me. These floppy copies have left me hanging at the end of each one, which leads me to believe that the story might be even more intense once complete and collected.