With so many big names and big events plastered across the shelves of your LCS, sometimes great comics get left behind – buried in longboxes until someone comes along to find these Hidden Gems.
Rachel Beck was murdered; strangled to death and then buried in a shallow grave in the woods. Then she woke up. This is where Rachel Rising, the new series from writer/artist Terry Moore. Rachel Rising seems at first to be a bit of a departure from Moore’s previous works (the quirky relationship drama of Strangers in Paradise and the science fiction-espionage Echo) but it still contains his signature blend of intriguing characters, expert penciling and in-depth storytelling.
When Rachel wakes from the ground three days after her death there’s rope burns on her throat, burst capillaries in her eyes and she has no memory of what happened to her the night she died. As she tries to piece together what happened to her we’re introduced to her friends and family through a series of flashbacks, a common but effective technique. Each person she interacts with responds to her differently, some not believing that’s she’s who she says she is and others understandably skeptical about her claim that she was dead. As Rachel tries to understand what’s happened to her we are shown a mysterious woman who appears to others in the small town of Manson that the story takes place in. In each instance every person the woman interacts with turns on someone they love and brutally murders them. It seems that Manson is a town with a history of murdering witches and it may well be that history is coming back for revenge.
The first volume of Rachel Rising presents an excellent and eerie mystery, but even in the midst of this jarring and violent premise everything is character driven and realistically motivated. There’s plenty of brutal and shocking violence but it serves the plot in a way that’s never exploitative or graphic, something a lot of horror comics seem to forget isn’t the be-all, end-all of horror storytelling. Rachel Rising is a mystery that ratchets up the suspense with supernatural-based psychological terror and is instantly captivating. As soon as I put down the first trade I wanted more.
Moore’s artwork, which has been consistently realistic and excellent throughout his career captures the escalating terror and mystery perfectly. It seems to be scratchier and a bit rougher around the edges for this endeavour but that captures the bizarre and shocking elements of the story quite well. Terry Moore is simply a master at his craft and able to make shocking and brilliant magic without resorting to cheap theatrics. If there’s any downside to the story it’s that it seems to read much better in trade and there are only two available at the moment. For those looking to go the single issue route, #14 is scheduled to ship on the 30th of January.
While the series has garnered acclaim in the form of nominations for Harvey and Eisner awards, as well as a mention on the Horror Writer’s Association’s 2012 recommended reading list, the series should be on everyone’s reading list but looking at the sales charts it clearly isn’t. While he’s done work for mainstream publishers like Marvel Moore is the quintessential “indie comics artist,” publishing Rachel Rising through his own company Abstract Studios. All they’re publishing right now is Rachel Rising, but one thing that the Big Two could really stand to learn is that quality trumps quantity every time. I give Rachel Rising 4 out of 5 snake-filled mouths.
Filed Under: Hidden Gems