Writer: James Tynion IV; Artist: Gavin Fullerton; Colorist: Chris O’Halloran; Letterer: Tom Napolitano; Editor: Greg Lockard; Designer: Dylan Todd.
The Closet #1 (of 3) from Image Comics is a powder keg of familial tension, both the visuals and writing masterfully illuminating the shadowed fears that populate even our most comforting relationships. Thom is ready to finish packing and haul his family cross-country in an effort to run from the past, but what happens when the skeletons in the closet decide they want out?
The Closet introduces us to Thom and his family, establishing brilliant realism through its complex presentation of each character. Thom's family situation is made clear through dialogue but never to the point of heavy exposition; instead, this creative team takes time to build each character's perspective. The more we learn about each character, even minutely through dialogue, the more intricate and complex their relationship becomes. This title shows promise in its commitment to exploring the darker aspects of these complexities. The Closet #1 establishes a character-focused story that feels grounded and emotionally real while also framing the horrors to come.
Tynion IV has a gift for creating distinct voices in his characters. Sentence patterns and rhythms differ from voice to voice, lending identity even to supporting characters; however, equal credit in this regard must be given
to Tom Napolitano's exceptional lettering. The font is scrawled but casually, evoking and complementing the authenticity and genuine connection that's often at the forefront of Tynion IV's prose. The positioning of the speech balloons also speaks to this as they often draw the eye in most panels and leads it through the page. These moments of character connection are used to physically lead the reader across the page and thus the story. More conceptually, this technique fuels the intimacy of the story as we become narratively dependent on characters interacting with one another, essentially mimicking the idea of human connection.
Gavin Fullerton and Chris O'Halloran make dreams work with teamwork with their one-two combo knockout of art and colors. Fullerton's setting art conveys the "unremarkable", every locale possibly being "that place you had brunch that one time". This breeds a bland familiarity or a monotonous comfort that settles in nicely with the other aspects of realism implemented. Character art sees a lot of heavy-handed line-work that merges shading and features, insinuating the emotional complexities mentioned earlier.
O'Halloran's colors interact with character perspective in interesting ways. Warmer colors firm shading often gave way to dotted shading and black backgrounds that connote isolation and fear. This shift in perspective always involves Jaime, our protagonist's son, and hints at both the familial relationships soon to be explored and the horror that will underpin it all.
The Closet #1 (of 3) is a thoughtful and engaging start to a story that seeks to explore the horrors that exist within the family structures that raise us. A steady, sure-handed approach is taken with every aspect of this book and encourage you to grab it from your LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP on June 1st or here from Image Comics!
In total, I give this initiatory issue 4 out of 5 POPS (with one left as a healthy achievable goal) :
If you'd like to dive a little deeper into wonky concepts and well-executed horror, look no further than this RECOMMENDED READING list:
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.