"The Ride" is a short story by Nathan Edmondson and Paul Azaceta, which stands alone and gives you an idea of the tone and style of the future collected edition of stories to be called "The Ride: Southern Gothic." "Anti" is more of an opening tease of characters and situations and it leaves you on a bit of a cliffhanger. Both books are good, though different in content and style, and they make for an interesting pair.
"Perfect Circle" is the title of the short for "The Ride" and it is a chilling masterpiece in bleak storytelling. We open in a late-'80s key party. Things are trashy from the very first page and it only goes downhill from there. An eager and pretty young thing pulls out a key and heads off in the car of this stranger. There are hints abound that all is not right but she is either too drunk or excited to notice. What follows is a brutal situation that will make you uncomfortable. This is not a pleasant story but it is superbly told.
Azaceta's art, in black and white, is perfect for this tale. He tells the story fluently with motion and control but also knows when to zoom out and let the scene sit. Two songs play over this story and the words flow in and out of panels. Often the words are obscured as they enter, exit, and dip, and overall the effect isn't as effective as it wishes to be. The music becomes this background 'sound' you can ignore and so with that occurring the words become superfluous on the page.
Upon flipping the book, you'll find "Anti." This tale is being stewarded by Gale Anne Hurd and feels like the kind of movie she would produce. An action star type female lead hunts down demons of some sort that take human form and are generally not being nice on Earth. It isn't a complete hook of a high concept, it reads as a little dated, but the pages are actually well put together.
For only half an issue, there's plenty to like here. We get one high-octane action sequence, a bit of character delving, and then an interrogation scene to end with that keeps you on edge. Peter Calloway treads a careful line between telling the story and also hooking the reader with more. He sells the character and concept solidly.
Daniel Hillyard's art is crisp and clean. He paces his pages well and gets a few opportunities to add something extra and shine. His action certainly feels kinetic in most panels. Charlie Kirchoff's colors brings some great subtleties to the front.
This FCBD issue is definitely worth grabbing. The short story from "The Ride" alone is enough to warrant a place in your collection and have you hungry for more. 12 Gauge is very quietly becoming a great publisher with some very solid titles in their stable. Get in here for free to see exactly how good.