I've been delaying writing this review for the better part of four months because - for once - I was at a loss for words. Typically when I write a review of a comic, I'll showcase some scans of the artwork, describe the main characters and summarize the plot and story. I can't do that this time.
I can't show off some of the artwork because Terrance Zdunich (the writer and artist of The Molting) specifically and respectfully asks the reader not to scan or otherwise reproduce the comic pages at the end of the first issue. Worry not - there are samples aplenty at http://www.themoltingcomic.com/
I can't really discuss the characters because most of them are - to some degree or another - cyphers. Most comics allow us to hear the internal monologue of at least one character, but The Molting is uniquely cinematic in that what we see is what we get. There is no internalization.
And I can't summarize the plot and story because The Molting defies summary and classification. You can say that it is a horror comic but I resist that label. Say the words "horror comic" to most comics fans and you'll inspire images of dismembered corpses, Lovecraftian aliens and zombie apocalypses. The horrors offered to us by Terrance Zdunich defy such casual classification. The Molting is a tale of the more subtle horrors that hide behind a veneer of normalcy. There are no monsters to be found here, save perhaps the ones that dwell within our own heads. There is nothing I can really compare it to save perhaps a strange blending of Clive Barker, Lemony Snicket and Arthur Miller.
The first issue is perhaps the most traditional horror story, detailing the sad and bloody childhood of a girl known as Guilty Susie. With Issue Two, we jump forward 30 years to the early 1990s, where Guilty Susie is now a housewife with two sons in Anaheim, California. From this point on, the focus shifts to her younger son, Joseph - an aspiring teenage artist whose talent far exceeds his opportunities. Issues Two through Five chronicle Joseph's disturbing home life, his difficulties at school and his worship of his older brother Trevor - a car thief with ethics whom Joseph equates to Robin Hood and Jesse James.
I really can't say more than that without giving a point-by-point, blow-by-blow retelling of every single moment of the issue. But I can say this in all honesty - I've never read any comic book like this and I enjoyed it immensely. If you're a fan of horror comics looking for something new or just an eclectic collector who enjoys oddities and rarities, this is a must read.
The entire series is available for purchase at http://www.themoltingcomic.com/ or Terrance Zdunich's personal website.
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