11th Aug2021

‘The Me You Love in the Dark #1’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Skottie Young | Art by Jorge Corona | Published by Image Comics

The horror and supernatural genre is often a misunderstood one. People in general feel as though horror is a one trick pony, no subtlety, no clever thought or invention, just obvious gore and jumps cares. Just look at the lack of critical respect for someone like Stephen King, who’s books are as good as any fiction writer, if not better. Horror comics, in general, have trod the obvious path. Serial killers, vampires, werewolves, zombies etc etc. Although I have my fair share of House of Mystery and The Unexpected issues, among others, conventional horror stories at their best, I tend to look for more subtlety these days. I like ideas and stories that take a fresh perspective, that can still be eerie and creepy, but also make you think. DC’s Sandman and some of the Vertigo books had that, and I think this book I am about to review may too.

We start with a truly terrifying scene. House hunting. Those who have been there know nothing is scarier than that. Our protagonist is Ro Meadows, a young artist who is moving away from the distractions of the big city for the relative peace and quiet of the suburbs. Or so she hopes. Ro is having trouble creating, and is hoping a change of scene will do the trick. Finding a nice big house, albeit one with a seemingly dodgy past, is just what the Doctor ordered, despite even the realtor trying to put her off. Ro appreciates a place that has character and faults, something that may sum up Ro herself. Ro’s in, and everything’s getting better.

Except it’s not. Ro still can’t shake her artists’ block, cripplingly unable to paint, and to make things worse the supposedly haunted house isn’t haunted at all. No sign of a ghost. Not so much as a ‘wooo’, or a door slamming. Only, maybe the art on the canvas isn’t the only thing Ro can’t see…. Young subtly teases out more and more of Ro’s circumstances, and it begins to feel as though her mental health is the cause of the artist block. She’s drinking too much, feels guilty for her success, feels unworthy etc. Young is cleverly using a haunted house ghost story to actually tell a very subtle story about mental health and disillusionment. Then the ghost talks to Ro.

Ro thinks she is now definitely having a breakdown, hearing voices in an empty house. But the writing on her canvas is very real. The ghost is very real. Who is it? What is it? Is it good or bad? Sent to help or needing release? Young is too clever a writer to give us anything more this issue, so we’ll have to see how things develop down the road. Although you could argue not a great deal happened, I would argue that a great deal did. We met Ro, we got to get to know her, her circumstance and what led her to this place at this time. Just because it was that kind of development doesn’t mean nothing happened. I really enjoyed the pace and tension of it, it really allowed me to enter and understand this world.

Ro has the feel of a Neal Gaiman character, as a slightly Goth-like artist who else, but with Skottie Young’s lighter touch. She’s written beautifully. The art and colouring is outstanding throughout. Beautifully constructed panels and layouts, you could read and understand this story without any text whatsoever. It just looks and feels beautiful. From the start Skottie Young and Jorge Corona just injected pure atmosphere into proceedings, every word and every panel having a feel to it, an elegance even, every action pushing things forward.

Is it a love story? A story of lonely people finding each other at the right time? A ghost story destined to end badly? I can’t wait to find out. What I do know, is that you won’t find a better book than this right now.

Ro Meadows may just be your new best friend.

***** 5/5

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