"Breath of Shadows #1" Comic Review

Written by Joel Harley

Published by IDW Publishing

article-cover

Written by Rich Douek
Illustrated by Alex Cormack
Lettered by Justin Birch
2023, 25 pages
Comic released on 1st February 2023

Review:

Sex, drugs, rock n' roll... and a South American jungle. All of the above collide in this new miniseries from Rich Douek, Alex Cormack (Road of Bones, Sea of Sorrows) and Justin Burch's Breath of Shadows. Set in the seedy sixties, this jet-setting body slash jungle horror story ships its junkie rockstar protagonist out to the waters of the Rio Candelaria, Mexico, in search of the miracle cure for heroin addiction said to be buried in its surrounding woodlands.

Desperate to cure frontman Jimmy Meadows of his crippling dependance on the drug, his bandmates shanghai the rocker into a tour of the lush Mexican jungle, where a guide - and perhaps Jimmy's future rehabilitation - waits. But what else is waiting out there for Jimmy and his band? If their shifty tour guide and the secretive journalist accompanying them is anything to go by, their trip will not be a smooth one. 

Click images to enlarge.

This first issue doesn't give much away beyond the bare bones of its setup (much less the characters who aren't Jimmy, who don't particularly stand out at the moment) but writer Douek sets the tone and atmosphere well, opening with Jimmy in the throes of sweaty, hallucinatory withdrawal - a horrifying, compelling depiction of drug addiction by artist Alex Cormack.

There are shades of that cinematic jungle classic, Apocalypse Now, to the story's opening pages, which depict Jimmy as a sweat-drenched, tortured mess - tormented by visions of hundreds of bugs and creepy crawlies, crawling beneath his skin and out of various orifices. While Cormack's work is rough around the egdes (particularly in his blocky, lumpy humans), the hallucinatory sequences are extremely well done, featuring legions of horrific-looking bugs infesting the page. As insects simmer and swarm beneath Jimmy's skin, and a journalist's face bursts open with a sea of creepy-crawlies, anyone with even a mild case of entomophobia should be forewarned.

Click images to enlarge.

The colours shift from lurid, overbearing brightness during the daytime to oppressive black at night - and, while the jungle doesn't appear in this first issue, it will be interesting to see what Cormack does with the story's setting.

This is a strong opening, giving little away while infusing the opening with a good taste of the horrors to come. An unsettlingly vivid work of body - and insect - horror, this first issue will get under the skin, ensuring that those who aren't completely revolted will keep coming back for more.

Grades:

Story: Cover
Buy from Amazon US.
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Buy from Amazon UK.
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Art: threestars
Overall: 4.5 Star Rating

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Joel Harley
Staff Reviewer
Haribo fiend, Nicolas Cage scholar and frequently functioning alcoholic. These are just some of the words which can be used to describe Joel Harley. The rest, he uses to write film criticism for Horror DNA and a variety of websites and magazines. Sometimes he manages to do so without swearing.
Other articles by this writer

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