North 40: You’ll NEED the Jack Daniels After This
Posted August 12, 2009on:
[At least once a month, we’re going to review a comic and tell you what to drink with it. Like wine & cheese snobs, except with comics. – M]
North 40 is a redneck horror story, the story of the Hellmouth opening in the middle of Bumfuck, Egypt without a slayer in sight. My family’s from the South, so when my mom (who recently read up through volume 11 of Fables, god love her) came over the other day, she starting looking curiously at the comics pile, like she does, and plucked up North 40.
“You know what’s wrong with this, right?!”
“Yeah, I know Mom.”
“I-40 runs east-west! Not north-south!”
“Yeah, well demons or something are posessing the entire town, there’s a guy with three eyeballs, and some other dude literally bit someone’s head off, so I’m thinking directional misrepresentation is the least of their worries…”
My mother also once used one of my comics to fan herself –
“Mom! Not with the comic! Not with Batwoman!”
My mom rules. But I digress. I picked up North 40 #1 on our weekly comics run last month, mainly because… well, I-40 runs east-west, I was curious. North 40 follows the trapped-behind-the-county-lines denizens of Conover County after a foolish D&D nerd and his goth girl buddy read some runes out of an ancient book. By morning, half the town is posessed, undead, growing extra eyeballs, or disintegrating into millions of bugs. But North 40 is more than just gross-out horror; author Aaron Williams has given us a regular gang of scoobies as well.
First there’s the sheriff, whose sense of duty is bigger than his paycheck. Then there’s Luanne, a waitress in the local diner who has somehow been gifted with premonitions. Wyatt, the trailer trash son of a drunk, risin’ above his raisin’ in a crisis. And finally there’s Amanda. Remember how I said there’s no Buffy? Well, there is a Willow and she carries a giant bloody scythe. I’ve read reviews complaining that North 40 moves too fast, but I think this complaint is at least somewhat born of the constantly shifting point of view. The shuffling actually makes the pace feel a bit more frantic, a bit more terrifying – I liked it.
Most of the violence in the book is implied rather than explicit. We often come upon the scene after the worst has happened, when one of the Scoobies walks in, which almost makes the book scarier. Fiona Staples’ art is story-board esque, in a good way – like a courtroom artist documenting the horror as it happens before getting the hell out of dodge.
North 40 is on DC’s Wildstorm imprint, but it feels like a Vertigo book. Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets The Dukes of Hazzard. Go on and spend the $2.99, fix yourself a Jack & Coke (or pop open a Bud Light, if liquor ain’t your thing) and enjoy.