A Knock At The Door: Reviewing ‘The Neighbors’ #1
by Scott Redmond
‘The Neighbors’ #1 kicks this series off with solid character & world-building with moody atmospheric artwork that captures that small-town horror vibe. This is a solid debut that taps into the world we know and the world that is beyond our own in many respects.
A strong opening issue is something all comic book series are striving to achieve when they make their big debut. Something that will hook the audience that takes a shot on the book so that they stick around and hopefully spread the word to others about what they just read.
With The Neighbors #1 there are definitely strong elements that can work to entice the audience to come back for more. Jude Ellison S. Doyle makes sure to spend this first issue really diving into the various characters we’re meant to focus on, the setting they find themselves within, and sprinkling in elements that play up the horror aspect of this series. As with many horror pieces there are far more questions than answers to begin things but that is always by design, as that can get you wondering and wanting more.
I appreciate that the story from the very beginning eschews the old classic stereotypical type of family that we’re spending our time with. This is a diverse and blended family from all avenues. Oliver is black and transgender, Janet is older than Oliver and left her previous wife for Oliver before Oliver transitioned, their daughter Isobel is a toddler, and Casey (who is the seeming potential victim in the horror angle) is Janet’s daughter from her previous marriage and is a typical depiction of a teenager who isn’t taking well to the new family dynamic.
Fears of persecution and hatred are strong in the beginnings wrapped in social elements and relatable fears that many are feeling in our current climate.
A lot of what is introduced is world-building and superficial without a ton of depth about the characters or what is going on, but there is time for that. There is enough here, in my opinion, to whet the appetite and bring one back for a second issue to find out just what the heck is going on. Especially with the very unsettling way things ended and what it might mean for Casey.
Letizia Cadonici and Alessandro Santoro are quite dynamic with creating a folksy sort of feeling art style that is also dripping with all the energy of a horror setting. There are a ton of shadows ever present and lurking and great uses of panel style and structure that help to open up some moments so we can feel the world and characters and others that close off and confine us to ramp up that terror aspect. There is a looseness to Cadonici’s artwork as it flows through the pages delivering some really compelling imagery, framed well by the various panel choices that shift from more standard to more creative to really drive more energy into the whole affair.
Color-wise, Santoro chooses a palette that is more toned-down in various respects that creates sort of a realistic world feeling but also allows for those aforementioned shadows to really pop as they creep or grow through the pages. It creates the perfect atmosphere that feels unassuming but also off-putting at the same time. It also sets up a really great sudden shift during the cliffhanger last page that hints at the changed energy and what happens to Casey, as things get far brighter.
Speaking of energy and nailing it, that is what Becca Carrey does with the lettering. It captures the tone and volume and energy of the characters as the dialogue and captions naturally spread through the pages in the most intuitive way. Little changes made to the font or the bubbles can really juice up any bit of dialogue or tone it way down, depending on what the moment needs. Casey in particular has a more dour sort of feeling to her words as we move through the issue, but then again that energy definitely flips on the last page as things take a turn.
Neighbors #1 is now available from BOOM! Studios.