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"Show's End #1" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by Mad Cave Studios


Written by Anthony Cleveland
Illustrated by Jef Sadzinski
Colored by Julian Gonzalez
Lettered by Justin Birch
2019, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on August 7th, 2019


Years ago there were urban legends about kids running away to join the circus. In Loralye's case, she ran away to join a traveling carnival and freak show. At first she's given odd jobs to keep her busy and out of trouble, but the other performers soon learn there's more to the young girl than meets the eye. No, she's not a Transformer. She's something far more frightening.

Show's End takes some time establishing the setting and the characters. We're fully immersed with this world and we quickly become invested in these performers, which makes the closing moments of this issue all the more harrowing. Writer Anthony Cleveland steadily builds the mystery of the strange murders that seem to follow the carnival as it moves along with a handful of pages interspersed within the main narrative, all the while showing us how normal and friendly the characters are.

Click images to enlarge

Although some of the performers are a little scary, they're all human, despite what the promoters might claim. There's love in this traveling carnival. They look out for one another and they're fiercely defensive, especially when it comes to outsiders or normies. This is why Loralye is shunned when she first shows up. She might be a young girl, but she doesn't fit in here and would only draw attention.

Artist Jef Sadzinski perfectly captures this innocence both in Loralye and the other characters. You can see the warmth in their lives, even when they look strange and different to the average viewer. Loralye fully embodies this with these big, frightened eyes and scruffy, beat-up dress. She's been through a lot and just wants some place to belong.

Click images to enlarge

I will be careful to avoid spoiling the end of this issue as it's best experienced cold. What I will say is that colorist Julian Gonzalez expertly ratchets up the terror as the action heats up. We move from the cool blues of a normal evening to a fiery red as blood is spilled and all sorts of violence breaks out. It's an abrupt and unsettling change that works well here.

Letterer Justin Birch adds to this intensity with some bold dialogue that can't always be contained in traditional word balloons. You can feel the range of emotions, from fear to anger in these characters as they fight for their lives.

Show's End begins with an impressive debut with a great twist ending. With this new status quo defined by the end of the first chapter, I'm excited to see where the series goes next. It feels like a supernatural take on Freaks or Geek Love.


Story: fourstars Cover
Art: fourstars
Overall: 4 Star Rating

About The Author
James Ferguson
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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