It’s the celebrity wedding of the century, set in an undisclosed, remote location, with no access to wifi, cell phone reception or the outside world. But the dream wedding becomes a nightmare when, one by one, the guests are brutally slaughtered by a mysterious killer who brands his victims with a hashtag.
Bad Reception is a searing horror story that doubles as a topical, satirical critique on society’s obsession with technology, social media and the cult of celebrity. Written and drawn by AfterShock’s very own Juan Doe (Dark Ark, American Mon-ster, World Reader)!
Bad Reception #1 kicks of Juan Doe’s cast-attrition thriller in pretty standard fashion. A seemingly mismatched celebrity couple, one ridiculously tech addicted, the other a “techno-ethicist” who seeks to free the world from their tech dependence, sets out to do something absolutely unheard of in the modern era. Their wedding is to take place in the middle of nowhere, completely disconnected from all forms of digital communication. No cell phones, internet, television, e-mail, or any other contact with the outside world. Absolutely bonkers, I know. Nomophobia is real, and more than half of us struggle with it.
This is basically an 80’s horror film that takes place in the modern era. Most of these stories have aged ridiculously, since no one born after 1990 can even imagine a world without cellular telephones and lightning fast internet connections. Doe had to dig deep to find a device that would strip the group of their ability to instantly connect with authorities and arrange escape. Making the bridegroom a self proclaimed tech saviour who literally demands his guests lock their cell phones in in the days ahead of the blessed event? Yup. That’ll do it.
On the art side, Doe some some really interesting things with layouts and backgrounds. Without treading too far into spoilery territory, this is one of those books that you really need to pay attention to every little visual detail. What starts out looking like a stylized sound form on the very first page develops over the next six into, well, something else, and once you see it, it can’t be unseen.
Bad Reception has a lot of potential as a survival horror/attrition thriller. Chapter one serves up a whole lot of story. There’s a ton of exposition, but it’s handled about as naturally as possible, especially given the context. Now that the nuts and bolts have been sorted, it’ll be interesting to see where Doe takes us in chapter two.
Bad Reception #1, AfterShock Comics, released 21 August 2019. Script/art/cover/logo/letters by Juan Doe. Variant cover by Paul Azaceta. Produced by Charles Pritchett. Edited by Mike Marts.