From haunted house horror of issue 1 to strange new world of issue 2, ‘Gravestown’ switches things up and takes our heroine (and us) on a little trip around the place. Clever, well-observed, with a natural warmth and humour in the dialogue, and oh so beautifully drawn, ‘Gravestown’ #2 sees Roger Gibson and Vincent Danks taking us deeper into a perfectly pitched fantasy horror.
Gravestown #2 keeps the quality and the entertainment going from the first issue – it’s a fabulous horror fantasy from a superb team.
Now, I’ve already told you plenty about Roger Gibson and Vincent Danks, whether it’s the magnificent weird murders cop procedural of Harker or their debut issue of this new horror fantasy Gravestown. So you should already be picking up their work – you are, aren’t you?
Anyway, the first issue of Gravestown did an excellent job of setting things up, something strange, something creepy, something rather mysterious, full of Gibson’s great dialogue and comedic touches and with all that lush artwork from Vincent Danks.
In the first issue it was all about Emma and her wisecracking friends exploring a normal-sized old house and suddenly Emma realising that, well, she’s not in Kansas anymore when she activated some machinery in the place…
Which took them all here…
And that wasn’t even the biggest twist in the first issue… because Emma then discovers all this…
Yes, from haunted house mystery into a completely different place in the course of one issue. A night out with a group of now mostly dead friends (and whether that means it’s the group that’s mostly dead or the friends who are mostly dead, well, that’s the sort of book it is) turns into a completely new world, complete with vampires, zombies, and aliens.
So, all of that brings us to issue 2, which is a little more sedate, a lot more weird, and every bit as enjoyable as issue 1.
First of all, let’s give you a little run-through, complete with Danks’ gorgeous artwork, of the main beats to expect storywise… deep breathe, we’re doing it on the hoof…
First, Emma’s just come back down to earth after her bit of a UFO moment and is now sort of making friends, even if she doesn’t really have any idea of what the hell’s going on and does tend to be a bit sweary…
That’s Geneveve. She delivers blood. No, really, it’s a town full of all manner of strange creatures, including vampires, and I’d imagine that you’d want to keep the vampires well-fed and not coming out onto the streets to choose their own meals.
There’s a bit of a chat and an encounter with a fairy – don’t believe either Barrie or Disney, they appear to be annoying little nightmares with a penchant for sexual pestering.
Next, Geneveve takes Emma off to see our mysterious stranger in the big house from issue 1, Nathaniel Ravenhall.
We’ve already had threats of war from Titania delivered via a ghost to Ravenhall and, although he’s doing his very best, most charming impression of someone normal here, you can’t help thinking he’s not exactly up to any good.
And then, somewhere else, maybe up on the far side of the Gravestown valley with the big, spooky castle, Emma’s friend Cornelius finds himself in the middle of a very nasty, very bloody vampire attack. And you thought the idea of a blood round was silly I bet – well, I reckon they never bothered setting one up and look where it’s got them.
Right then, that’s where we’re at with issue 2. And hopefully you can see just how enjoyable, just how fast-paced, just how gorgeous this really is.
The whole thing really has switched rather brilliantly from that haunted house chiller/thriller of issue 1, all that scary running around the place in the dark stuff, to something far more expansive, far more unusual, here once Emma gets her introduction to Gravestown. Having Gibson and Danks turn it all on its head this way is a real blast, populating Gravestown with a weird and wonderful mix of characters, settling us down into things and almost… almost… convincing us that all is well and this place of vampires, zombies, monsters, aliens, and all the rest is all rather cute and lovely.
Except they’ve swiftly laid out plenty of little teases that auger ill here. It might seem all sedate and lovely, but there’s that threat of war, not to mention the vampires getting all apocalyptic wherever Cornelius is.
And all the way through it, well, most of the way through it, Vincent Danks’ artwork just gets every bit of this over so beautifully well. You’ve already seen it obviously, but his character work, body language, expressions, it’s all so remarkably beautiful work. (I say most of the way through it because there are just these occasional moments where an odd body form just yanks you out of things that little bit – but that’s perhaps nit-picking).
No, taking it as a whole, Gravestown looks absolutely beautifully otherworldly. And that’s not even mentioning the thing he’s always been so incredible at, where things pull back and there’s an expansive double-page spread to let Danks get his architecture on… just like this…
So, as I said already, issue 1 was paced perfectly, sumptuously drawn, great colouring, and a real page-turner from start to finish. Issue 2 slows things down just a bit, introduces us to somewhere new and moves the story along a little bit. It still looks amazing, Danks’ capturing all the strange world we and Emma are finding ourselves in now, and Richmond’s colouring is so sympathetic to Danks’ artwork.
Quite simply, I just have to repeat what I said at the end of the review for issue 1 – Gravestown really is a book you have to get – you won’t find a bit of horror fantasy done better this year.
Gravestown #2 – co-plotted by Roger Gibson and Vincent Danks, script by Roger Gibson, art and tones by Vincent Danks, colours by Andrew Richmond
As far as getting hold of the comic, there’s a new Kickstarter for Gravestown issue #4 starting very soon where you’ll have the chance to add these published issues to any pledge, but Roger also tells me that you can simply message him and he’ll definitely be able to get the comics to you.