Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 12.14.2011 – Severed #5

What did the
iFanboy
community think?

487
Pulls
Avg Rating: 4.6
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 3.9%
 
Users who pulled this comic:
story SCOTT SNYDER & SCOTT TUFT
art & cover ATTILA FUTAKI

Size: 32 pages
Price: 2.99

If we were watching a movie of Severed, and there was a symphonic score, the violins would have pretty much reached the end of their ascension, and be playing a pitch about as high as they could go. This issue of the creepy, horror period piece from Image comics was a collection of moments when you thought the shoe was going to drop, and it never quite did. The result is that I’m now very tense.

Last issue, we saw that no one is safe, and as readers, we know what Jack does not know, and it is brutal and torturous. There are five beats in this book where you think, well, this is it, and it just doesn’t happen. I’ve never read a comic book that put together so many moments of narrative blue balls, and got away with it. It should have been annoying. Instead, we’re getting the same lurch in our stomachs you get from watching a man wiggle about on a high wire with no net. It’s maddening, but in the best way. With two issues to go, we know that there’s not much time left, and things are going to start rolling downhill very fast and very soon, which is good, because the readers have earned it.

I think the think that makes this series work more than anything is the setting. By timing in the early part of the twentieth century, there are so many interesting concepts just floating around. There are automobiles and some modern conveniences. There is the idea of a comfortable, safe life, but just on the edge of that is this other world. A person can disappear easily, and in the end, no one but the hobos know you were there, and there’s no one to come find you if something goes wrong. It’s not so long ago, and yet the opening scene depicts a very rural birth, helped out with a big knife. Later, we’re brought to a Tennessee road house, where things get uglier the closer you look. Inside, it’s warm, with music and food. Outside, there’s temptation and danger. There’s an incredible and real divide between the worlds of the have and have nots, and Jack is learning about all of it first hand. The terror of the road house shakedown isn’t even part of the horror story, but anyone walking along a dark street at night knows that at any moment, you drop your guard for a second, and everything can change. In that instance, it looks like Jack has a savior, but we’re not sure what Mr. Fisher is really planning. We know he has shark teeth and eats people sure, but what if it’s something even worse.

That’s the key to this story and why it’s so engaging. We’re not sure what the danger is, and between the danger, there’s a lot of fun. Snyder and his c0-writer, Scott Tuft, make sure to drag the whole thing out endlessly, leaving us exhausted, and wanting to “get it over with,” but not wanting things to end at the same time.

With a book set in a specific time period that also relies heavily on visual suspense and timing, the artist is more important than ever, and each issue we’re seeing a more impressive performance from Attila Futaki, who is doing a hell of a lot of juggling. He’s got the challenge of period clothing, vehicles, and buildings, while at the same time, he’s got a bunch of weathered characters, none of whom look alike, but all look like real people. Then this issue throws a mess of suspenseful fake outs at us, in a way I haven’t seen in many comics. It’s all handled with amazing aplomb. Capping off that performance, colorist Greg Guilhaumond fills in the spaces with a gloomy, dusty palette that fits perfectly. I’m not normally a fan of painted (either faux or otherwise) interiors, but it works very well in this book.

What might be most impressive to me is that I’m not a fan of horror at all. I never have been, and I just accept the fact that it’s not for me. I don’t seek it out, and I usually avoid it. However, Scott Snyder and team have managed to do something here that even lets a reader like me enjoy this story. In a larger sense, they’re expanding the idea of what comics can do, and hopefully fans of his Batman work (and there are many) will give this a chance, and get a sense of what other kinds of comics are in the world. When this thing is collected, provided they stick the landing, it’s going to be a wonderful gift for fans or horror or suspense who don’t normally read comics, because it’s just a good story.

Josh Flanagan
What did he do to him after he chloroformed him?
josh@ifanboy.com


Comments

  1. I no longer buy your assertion that you’re not a horror fan, Josh. You like this, Hellboy, BPRD, Hellblazer, Animal Man…

    Own it.

    • I can take it in comics, but I can’t sit through most horror movies. But there are a lot of talented guys doing horror comics. Also, Hellboy and BPRD, they’re like… monster comics. I don’t know about horror.

      Related: I miss Roger.

    • Own it.

    • i’ve always found the term “horror” to be really odd in comics. I’ve never read a comic book that has scared the crap out of me the same way that some classic horror films have.

      I agree about the Monster Comics tag…i almost prefer it. Sounds more fun. =)

    • I kinda see where Josh is coming from in that, I’ve never considered myself a ‘horror’ fan, but have loved this series (as well as BPRD, Hellboy, Animal Man).

      Also, if your are not currently watching American Horror Story…drop what you are doing and get on that show! The acting by Jessica Lange is award-winning!

    • See, I just don’t care to watch that show. I know people like it. My wife is watching it. I just don’t care.

    • Most modern horror movies aren’t really horror, but rather startle movies (discuss). Could that be why you say you are not a fan? Not that it matters. But I can relate because I find myself attracted to horror in theory, but usually disappointed by the execution. Severed has not disappointed.

      Can’t wait to hear Ron gush about X-Force. Great week.

    • *Not that it matters if you don’t like horror.

    • @Gerry The best horror movies are ones that (usually) don’t involve supernatural elements or monsters.

      Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, etc; that stuff never scares me or is really horror. It’s just a bunch of people getting killed like it’s a video game.

      Movies that I love like The Shining is scary because it just messes with your mind and is sort of realistic. Okay, maybe a kid with a imaginary friend in his thumb is supernatural. But the movie is scary because it’s mainly about a man who goes insane. That’s what makes this comic so good at horror because it can (and I’m sure at some capacity it has) happened. Anything with a serial killer is a cliche now a days, but Snyder and Tuft did a great job making this truly terrifying to read.

    • @ gerry and TNC –i think horror is best defined as whatever scares you.

      The Shining doesn’t scare me….but Freddy still does and i haven’t seen one of those movies in almost 15 yrs.

    • Too many “horror” movies try to scare the audience with a loud sound (usually a sudden, blaring burst of music) to physically startle them. I think this is a cheap tactic. I am more in favor of tension building stories. The scene is Severed with the bear trap a couple of issues back is a good example. My heart rate actually picked up while reading it. Alfred Hitchcock said something great about building emotional tension in a scene, “There are two people having breakfast and there’s a bomb under the table. If it explodes, that’s a surprise. But if it doesn’t…”

      @wallythegrenmonster @TNC The Shining scares the crap out of me. It’s probably because my parents let me watch it in the theater with them when it came out…and I was about the same age as the kid in the movie. I think what really gets me about that movie is the quick jump cuts to the twin girls and the blood gushing down the hallway. He would be riding his big wheel down the hall and then turn a corner. No loud music (if I recall)…just to creepy twin girls holding hands.

    • @Wayne Exactly. The Shining oozes with creep. And that’s not to say that going more over the top can’t work as well. To this day I can’t watch The Exorcist again. When you look at the thought that went in to crafting that movie, its no accident that its on so many lists of scariest movies.

    • @wally: That’s what I meant…but you were able to condense it down in a way much better then my mess of a post. 😛

      @wally/wayne; The Shining is scary because of the music and the unrelenting feeling of dread. The bike going across the halls, the tennis ball coming out of no where in front of Danny, Nicholson going full blown ‘psycho’ with only a few DAYS into the place. That’s what got me to love about the film, well that and my love of Kubrick.

      I still attest that The Shining is Jack Nicholson’s best performance with ‘A Few Good Men’ being a very close second.

  2. Uncanny xforce of course

  3. Hopefully this renews my interest in the series. I thought the first two issues were great, but the past two just made me want this whole thing to get a move on.

  4. A great choice. Mine was X-force, but that’s not a new occurrence…

  5. Mine was batman brave and the bold, but severed and uncanny xforce were 5 stars too

  6. Number 4 was my pick of the week, can’t wait to read this issue.

  7. X-FORCE!!!! JK 😉 Big Snyder fan thanks to your site. Definitely will check this out.

  8. dang it, i hate when the POTW is a book I waited for trade to read! makes me regret my decision lol

  9. I seriously can’t remember having such a tough time picking my top book. the pure dread of Batwoman, the kickassiness of Frankenstein: AoS & the awesomeness that is The Shining Knight in Demon Knights. aak. all five star books for me, will read again later then decide.

  10. Great review josh. This was a pretty damn good issue as always. It was scary, tense, and down right gruesome at the right moments. My favorite moment, and panel for the week actually, is in the beginning where Futaki splits Mr. Fisher’s face in half to reflect his dialogue on ‘dubious creatures’. The art on the whole though bothered me in a few places. Not so much on the different colorist, which was actually better slightly then Futaki’s….But Futaki seemed to have changed his style, somewhat, in this issue. Characters look different and in some cases they change from panel to panel. It wasn’t bad or anything, but it was too noticeable to ignore it.

    My POTW was Journey Into Mystery. A cute issue on Loki trying to get into the holiday spirit. With some gorgeous artwork by the Breitweiser couple to boot!

    • If it weren’t for my giant boner for Remender and X-Force, JIM would have been my pick. That was so damn cute. “BASTARD BASTARD BASTARD”

  11. I managed to get to issue 3 before giving up with this.

  12. This book is positively dripping with creepy. This was another solid issue.

  13. Yeah, this issue was great. I’m not sure it was as good as the last issue but this is turning into a solid little horror story.

  14. I’m an issue behind, but I gotta say, there are two scenes that really moved me in this book. The scene with the bear trap was intense. And Jack and Sam kissing on the beam was very touching.

  15. Damnit, Josh! Now I wanna pick this up. I was gonna trade-wait, but you’ve convinced me.

    Looks like someone’s getting’ cut.

    See ya, Grifter.

  16. Great review of an excellent book that I have fallen in love with. Very happy to hear that there will be more to come after this series closes.

  17. A very good review, makes me if I made the right pick this week.

    “What did he do to him after he chloroformed him?” There was something about those panels that fills your mind with terrible suspicion isn’t there? When I reached that panel when it is abruptly morning … I actually paused my reading and my mind reeled thinking about what may have taken place between panels. Since it seems Fisher doesn’t intend to eat Jack after all, those hungry looks he has been giving Jack seem to take on an even more terrifying nature don’t they?

  18. I love this book.

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