PopCultHQ received a preview copy of Damon Clark’s THE CIRCLE #1 & #2 from Action Lab: Danger Zone. With issue one already available and issue two hitting retailers on New Comic Book Day, Wednesday, January 18th, the creative team for this series features writing from Damon Clark, art and colors from Alyzia Zherno, with editing and lettering by Zen of HCMP.
Here’s PopCultHQ’s spoiler-free review of the first two issues of…
Cover Price: $3.99 (Cover A), $4.99 (Cover B)
After the death of his mother, Christian moves with his single father to the sleepy coastal town of Shell Bay. Upon being bullied at his new school, he’s quickly befriended by the group of “weird” kids. But what Christian doesn’t know is that their playful occult shenanigans may actually be rituals that damn his soul!
The Circle #2
Cover Price: $3.99 (Cover A), $4.99 (Cover B)
Christian has found his place with his new Circle of friends, but he soon finds out not everyone is what they seem. He will perform his first ritual and his first kill, and now he wants out!
When news of Damon Clark’s THE CIRCLE made the rounds, I made sure to grab myself a copy when it released its premiere issue. From its synopsis alone (see above), it certainly had appeal in its occult horror theme. I definitely got a lot more than I expected.
The story begins with a recently widowed father of one, losing his wife just shy of her 39th birthday, and the weight of the responsibility in raising a son on your own, while masking your grief to appear strong because he needs to see that right now. Christian Reynolds, dealing with a move to a new town and processing the loss of his mother, faces challenges many kids have encountered at some point in their life. Moving to a new town, being the new kid at school, peer pressure, cliques, prickhead jocks, and of course the outcasts.
Christian, after being picked on by the punk-ass kids and with the desire to feel accepted to someone, he becomes absorbed into this group who accept him, make him feel important and worthy. Little does he know, that friendship comes at a price, one from which he may not be able to turn back.
Writer Damon Clark has a fascinating story on his hands that’s destined for greatness. The premise is delivered to perfection and has all the makings of a long-running series and a cult-classic (or “occult classic,” if you will). Don’t let the synopsis fool you. You may see the word “teenager” and think, “Ugh” but it’s not like that. Remember, this is an Action Lab: Danger Zone title. It’s a mature readers series for a reason (a lot, actually), and you will LOVE the reasons! Great execution, a beyond appealing concept, and a duo in Zherno and Zen that showcase his writing skills.
I have already made it one of my 2017 goals that when I see that Damon is at a con I’m attending, he’s one of the first people I seek out. Not only to get him to sign my copy of THE CIRCLE #1 (not for a giveaway, get your own – trust me, it’s worth it), but hopefully to interview him for PopCultHQ. I want to pick that brain of his and get a glimpse at his creative mind in person. Expect great things from Clark as THE CIRCLE will most certainly increase his recognition and value in the comic book community. I intend to follow this series ritualistically. Yup, I said it.
Alyzia Zherno’s illustrations are a spectacle to behold. It’s alluring, enchanting, and simply the perfect compliment to Clark’s story.
In the flashback sequence showing the last moments of Christian’s mother as she lay dying in a hospital bed, I was incredibly moved by the emotionally-charged representation and the powerful symbolism in the background (wilting/dying flowers, one less helium-filled balloon in each panel, dimming of the lights, etc.). Though the latter aren’t the primary focus of each panel, it speaks volumes as to Zherno’s attention to detail and artistic input. Zherno’s artwork adds to the haunting allure of THE CIRCLE brilliantly. Definitely an artist to watch.
Zen from High Concept Media Properties took me by surprise. The main thing I noticed immediately was the different and unique approach to connecting dialog bubbles. Though not what you commonly see, it was a refreshing change and by the end of issue one I loved the look and flow of it. Great dialog overlays, proper placing, and fit nicely within these first two issues.
PopCultHQ’s overall assessment:
If you’re not reading Damon Clark’s THE CIRCLE, you are missing out on a mesmerizing series. This ritualistic thriller has such a gripping narrative and is overflowing with magically dark imagery. Imagine The Lost Boys meets The Craft filled with plenty of “Oh $#&!” moments. Where issue one lays the foundation for our key characters and a healthy dash of background, issue two hits hard in a spiritually dark fashion and will suck you in. Most series take at least a few issues to really hit their groove. Not THE CIRCLE. Even before you’ve finished the second issue, you’re already planning in your mind to drop money on issue three. No hesitation.
THE CIRCLE has an aesthetically-pleasing design and layout. The panels are atypical but that adds to the appeal of the book and I wouldn’t want it any other way. For everything you get in-between the pages of THE CIRCLE, in either and both of the first two issues, it’s remarkable that this three-person creative team put together what would seemingly require the hands of at least 5 or 6 exceptional creators. If you think about it, perhaps that’s their winning formula: Clark, Zherno, and Zen each do the work of two people, thus completing their circle.
PopCultHQ’s Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Damon Clark’s THE CIRCLE #1 and #2 can be ordered NOW on ComiXology,
or at your local comic shop and various online retailers!
Be sure to follow the creative team!
Fb Series Page: https://www.facebook.com/DamonClarksTheCircle/
Fb Art Page: https://www.facebook.com/a.zherno/