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The rain lashes the grassy dunes of Brody Island, and seagulls scream above the bay. A slender figure in a raincoat carries a large wicker basket, which looks like it might be full of melons…covered by a bloodstained scrap of the American flag.
This is the story of June Branch, a young woman trapped with four cunning criminals who have snatched her boyfriend for deranged reasons of their own. Now she must fight for her life with the help of an impossible 8th-century Viking axe that can pass through a man’s neck in a single swipe-and leave the severed head still conscious and capable of supernatural speech.
Each disembodied head has a malevolent story of its own to tell, and it isn’t long before June finds herself in a desperate struggle to hack through their lies and manipulations…racing to save the man she loves before time runs out.
A horror imprint under DC you say? Curated by Heart Shaped Box’s Joe Hill you say? Releasing just in time for Halloween?
Basketful of Heads #1 is an intriguing start to a very new type of comic for me. Though I love horror films and other medium I haven’t read a huge amount of horror comics.
In that respect I felt that the pacing of Basketful of Heads was a surprise. In my mind Hill would get straight down to the gore and have heads rolling – literally – on nearly every page.
So colour me surprised that this issue is incredibly well considered, particularly around how it handles its characters.
There’s a great air of mystery around the story. One which will easily carry over in to the next issue. The opening teaser gives a glimpse in to what is to come but will ultimately leave readers salivating as it’s not picked up in elsewhere here.
Instead the issue focusses on introducing the centrepiece of the story, June, and her boyfriend Liam. They feel very contemporary given the 1983 setting but also feel incredibly well realised.
The dialogue between them as they drive in to town is (at times filthy!) but honest rooted in reality. Through this opening scene we learn a lot about both personalities just through the way they interact with each other.
June is clearly the more carefree of the two. She’s happy to bend the rules to suit her purpose and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. She’s also the daydreamer, she clearly thinks about their future even if her plans are very shortsighted.
Liam on the other hand is more grounded. He has the stable job, career prospects and despite a minor drug habit, is clearly well respected by his peers. It’s easy to see that he enjoys his relationship with June but is also not afraid to bring her back down to Earth.
The supporting cast are all very interesting as well. There’s a particular focus on the Sheriff, Liam’s boss, and his family. His wife in particular seems like a very strong character and very take-charge.
From just one issue they all have well defined, individual voices and characteristics which, to me, signifies incredibly strong writing.
Leomacs illustrations bring a fine level of detail to the medium. Characters facial expressions are rich whilst environments are deep and engaging. There’s also an unprecedented level of body language conveyed through his artwork which really impressed me.
Joe Hill brings a classic, Raimi-esque horror to the DC Universe just in time for Halloween. Basketful of Heads #1 lays the groundwork for a unique new imprint under DC’s Black Label.
Basketful of Heads #1 is written by Joe Hill with illustration by Leomacs and colours by Dave Stewart.