"Bad Reception #1" is a slow burn set-up for the rest of the intriguing horror series

Creator/Writer/Artist/Cover Artist/Logo Designer/Letterer: Juan Doe, Variant cover by Paul Azaceta

Aftershock Comic’s new horror series, Bad Reception, debuts this week, and while the synopsis sounded very intriguing, my reaction to issue #1 was mixed. The “Bad Reception” title is certainly a clever pun/double-meaning for the off-the-grid, wedding reception murder story, but it loses its charm before we even get past the front cover.

The sledgehammer-on-the-head double-meaning puns began in the comic logo itself, where logo designer Juan Doe couldn’t resist driving the pun home further by including a signal wave symbol in the comic title. The wave is hard-edged and clean, not rendered in the same gritty style as the handdrawn typeface, and while this is ok graphically, it really should have at least conformed to the same angle as the type, to make it work as a cohesive logo unit. Not doing this as well as leaving the wave clean-looking makes it appear to be an unnecessary afterthought.

As big a fan as I have been of Juan Doe’s Descendent covers, it was the variant cover for this issue by Paul Azaceta that was my runner-up to POP Cover Of The Week, featuring a skeleton bride holding a bouquet of cellys with the double-meaning-pun “NO RECEPTION” on each screen, and a big bloody hashtag in the background. We get it already…the wedding reception will be bad, and it will be no reception anyone will want to remember, if anyone survives, that is.

The first seven pages of this book are all solid black, with the only graphics being radio interview dialogue balloons, and an increasingly larger red streak. Page eight pays off the overly long set-up, but we already knew this book was a horror/murder story, so the pay-off was hardly a surprise. It was either a very courageous way to open the first issue of a new series, or a very off-putting one.

"Bad Reception #1" interior by Juan Doe

These first visually spare seven pages feature an interview with Blaise Bordeaux-Davis, “techo ethicist” and bestselling author of #hashtag off the grid: How to Unplug from Social Media and Connect with Your Primal Self. Blaise is engaged to megastar Gaia, and their upcoming celebrity wedding is going to be a living example of his book’s theme: getting off the grid and away from social media.

The rest of the story is told in a double-page spread, horizontal split-screen format, which contrasts blasé wedding prep with Blaise and Gaia above, while below a "primal" hunter stalks prey, kills it, and uses its blood to foreshadow marking his future, human prey.

Doe’s art and coloring is solid, but after this very slow burn of a start, hopefully issue two gets more interesting and gets to the “action” quicker.

Bad Reception #1 is on sale August 21, 2019.

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