Red Room #4 ADVANCE REVIEW: A terrible trio of tales tells of terror

Red Room #4. Writer & Artist: Ed Piskor.


Warning: Potential Spoilers Imminent


Cover by Ed Piskor

I love this series with all of my blood-thirsty heart. Red Room wraps up its first “season” with Red Room #4 from Fantagraphics, and it's a love letter to EC Comics written in blood and wrapped in notorious nostalgia. Issue #4 continues the varied stories surrounding the online phenomenon of Red Rooms: online streams where people are murdered and viewers pay crypto currency to make the victims’ pain worse and worse. This new issue begins with a chilling introduction by the “Crypto-currency Keeper” and is littered with modern slang straight from the nearest truck stop bathroom stall (the middle one). This issue’s addition to the Antisocial Network tapestry of terror is a trio of tales — Tales from the Crypt style.


Prose & Art by Ed Piskor

Raina Dukes plans and trains for the moment she gets to avenge her father’s death (a bit obsessively, to me) in “Cyclical Territory”. The Red Room femme fatale Donna Butcher gets her time in the limelight with an origin story in “Pure Evil” (p.s. Donna Butcher killed Raina’s dad). Both ends meet in the finale, “Snuff Said”, when Raina and Donna meet and have a...killer conversation (cue Creeper laugh from Creepshow). Together these stories combine to make their own contained universe within the bigger Red Room universe, that still has a sense of warped humanity blanketed in gore, gore, and more gore.


Art & Prose by Ed Piskor

As always, Piskor’s writing is only outdone by his art. Both work together to remind us of the horror comics of yore. The dialogue is over the top and supported by the duotone colors and caricature-like art. My favorite aspect of this new issue is the constant interruption of the stories with appearances from the Crypto-currency Keeper. He frequently pops in to offer a variety of gags and adverts (the fleshlight was of particular disgusting delight). Sometimes he even appears to offer his own terrible commentary on events as you read them. It’s a fun fourth-wall break that matches the tone Piskor has been chasing through previous issues. Red Rooms are horrifying, not just because of what they are, but because so many everyday people watch them. The real horror is the action of returning again and again to a tale that holds a mirror up to society and says, “You’re fucked up!”. I love it.


I’m a huge fan of Red Room and would absolutely dig it if you all would check it out. Now be warned, there are definitely messed up images in these books. If a cartoon dog’s head on a stick being held by a toddler bothers you….well, you should probably skip this title. Otherwise, check out this “season finale” when it drops on Wednesday, September 15th from either Fantagraphics’ own site or (my personal favorite) YOUR LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP! If you want to know more about EC Comics, go look into the Tales from the Crypt collections from Amazon or even splurge on an academic book about the influence of EC in the overall comics medium (also on Amazon).


 

Austin Kemp read Batman #315 (Batman vs Kite Man) when he was 5 years old, and hasn't stopped reading comics since. Austin is a college writing teacher and has a masters degree in Comics Studies. Austin and his partner, Savanah, live in Massachusetts with their master, a cat named Chaplin.

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