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"Scratcher #1 - #3" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Scratcher 1 00

Written by John Ward
Illustrated by Juan Romera
Lettered by Eric Grissom
2017

Review:

Dee's life as a tattoo artist is thrown into chaos when her studio becomes a crime scene. Tattoos are possessing her clients, driving them mad and sending them on murderous rampages. That's going to be one horrible Yelp review. Now she's on a mission to stop this terror before it infects more people and raises the body count.

Scratcher has a great premise behind it as tattoos have become more and more prevalent so it's only a matter of time before demons get into them, right? Where it falls short is in the connection to Dee and the rules of these possessions. Although I started with the first issue, it feels like we've jumped into a story that was already going on. We're not invested in Dee's life or those around her, so when the shit hits the fan, it doesn't have much impact.

A perfect example of this is Sarah, who is the first introduced by trying to rip Dee's face off in her blood-soaked tattoo parlor. She and Dee have a history together which is hinted at later on in the issue, so the shock of seeing her in this crazed state doesn't carry any weight. The same can be said for some of the other victims that pop up in subsequent issues. Since we don't know anything about them or why Dee cares about them, outside of them being customers, their problems don't matter as much.

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Click images to enlarge

This is a bummer as there are some pretty cool ideas at work in Scratcher. Writer John Ward hints with some deeper conspiracies going on around Dee and these tattoos. Over the course of the first three chapters, Dee turns into a one-woman vigilante of sorts, fighting against an enemy that only she can see.

An interesting touch comes in Dee's internal narration, which is shown in black caption boxes with white font, an inverse of what is traditionally shown in comics. Letterer Eric Grissom does this to great effect, adding a stoic feeling to Dee's crusade.

Artist Juan Romera has a talent for delivering shocking gore in the most normal of settings. A frat house party turns into a horror show in Scratcher #3 with a terrifying full page spread that's practically dripping with blood. The sheer variety at work in the kills is impressive; there are beheadings, dismemberments, and more. One guy has his rib cage torn open and a woman is about to eat his heart right out of his chest.

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Click images to enlarge

Scratcher is presented in black-and-white which is a positive and a negative. It's great in some of nighttime scenes as it creates some nice shadows, playing up the macabre feeling of the overall story. The downside to this is that I'm sure some of the tattoos would have some awesome colors and they would probably really come alive if that was the case.

Scratcher has some great ideas, but falls short on the execution. The characters aren't very fleshed out and the rules of this world are not clearly established, so we're jumping from one crazy tattoo to the next. There's some definite potential here if the series can get over those humps.

Grades:

Story: Twoandahalfstars Scratcher 1 Small
Art: Threeandahalfstars
Overall: Threestars

About The Author
Spez Bio 2
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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