PopCultHQ received a review copy of UNDERWINTER #1 from Image Comics. In stores now, the creative team for this series features writing and art from creator Ray Fawkes, and letters from Steve Wands, with covers by Fawkes and Jeff Lemire.
Here is PopCultHQ’s spoiler-free review of…
Cover Price: $3.99
‘SYMPHONY,’ Part One – Critically acclaimed creator RAY FAWKES launches his new monthly horror series: UNDERWINTER, twisted portraits of our dark world, beginning with the perverse, topical SYMPHONY – a beautifully painted tale of music and cruelty in the modern age.
PopCultHQ’s Comic Book Review:
“Symphony – Part One: November”
The story in UNDERWINTER is a truly unique offering from writer Ray Fawkes. The story is of this string quartet taking a well-playing gig for some wealthy individuals with some risqué obsessions. The money is actually so good, that this foursome will do whatever is asked of them, even some bizarre things. Think Stanley Kubrick and you’re on the right path. There’s also a story slowly being teased with some shady undertones which will simply play with your mind, especially if you think too much on it. And the final page…wow! Let’s just say the way issue one ends is an eye-opening revelation into where this series looks to be headed.
What I found quite appealing was how Fawkes would use different methods, different mediums to illustrate his story. Whether watercolors, some inking details, and even some instances where it appeared he used chalk or maybe crayon, UNDERWINTER melds them all and infuses it with poetry, music, fine arts, and a ritualistic thriller that keeps you guessing.
It’s easy to get consumed by what you find page after page. One moment you’re curious about this dark story being told, the next you’re enraptured by the flowing, wispy, water-colored illustrations. There’s a tempo you can feel throughout; musically, poetically, and artistically. It’s likely that this title may not be for everyone. However, if you love art, poetry in motion, as well as an underlying narrative filled with a psychological horror component, UNDERWINTER is the only book you’ll need.
From page one, Fawkes’ storytelling is comparable to a top novelist; his almost melodic delivery, the descriptive yet flowing nature, and the remarkable poetry incorporated into this title. The way issue one is laid out and told makes for a captivating narration in this mental mindscrew of a series. There’s some intriguing WTF moments that reveal some of the writer’s mindset for this series and frankly, it looks chilling. Fawkes has a story not to miss in UNDERWINTER.
Artistically, UNDERWINTER is a visual masterpiece. The artwork feels as though it belongs in a gallery, or that you’re in a gallery viewing each page, each individual panel on the walls sequentially. It’s easy to find yourself lingering a little longer on each page just to take everything in. The watercolors add to the allure and evoke emotion on their own. I enjoyed his use of different implements for painting his canvas. From paint brushes to the scratching of the colors, and there are instances where I feel he used his fingers to smudge some of the artwork. This is a true craftsman on full display.
Steve Wands does a solid job on letters. What really came through my mind when looking at the lettering in UNDERWINTER, all I could think of was that it was Steve’s contributions to the issue that reminded me that this was a comic book. This actually kept me grounded a few times while reading. It was easy to get caught up in the storytelling as well as the interior artwork where you almost forget you’re reading a comic book. So the fact it reminded me of that, it made me value the issue in its entirety even more. I also really liked his captions, especially when they first hit you on pages one and two and add to that same melodic and poetic flow of the book. Nicely done.
PopCultHQ’s overall assessment:
UNDERWINTER #1 was a mind-trip for me that I loved the entire time. I come from an artistic family and I, myself, have years of experience in music, acting, painting, ceramics, working with porcelain, cartooning and others; the Arts have always been a part of my life. So it’s because of this I can truly appreciate what Ray has put together in this debut issue. Fawkes is afforded the opportunity to allow all of his skills to canvas this series. This includes his mesmerizing storytelling, which in this series makes for a really great psychological horror. The artwork and poetry found in UNDERWINTER #1 is Expressionism at its finest. There’s no other way to put it. I truly believe we’ve only begun to see what the writer has in store for us. I just had a feeling that we were in for something pretty special in UNDERWINTER and writer Ray Fawkes went above and beyond with this debut issue.
5 out of 5 Stars
Be sure to look for UNDERWINTER #1
at your local comic shop and online retailers!
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Ray Fawkes is known for his work on THE PEOPLE INSIDE, ONE SOUL, GOTHAM BY MIDNIGHT, CONSTANTINE, BATMAN: ETERNAL, INTERSECT, JACKPOT!, and more!
Steve Wands is a comic book letterer. He’s lettered for DC Comics, Vertigo, Random House, BOOM! Studios and others. He is a graduate of the Kubert School and in 2014 was a Harvey Award Nominee for Best Lettering
Publisher – Image Comics