Rachel Rising

More than anybody else in the world of comics, Terry Moore is admired for his ability to tell a story. The writer/artist for titles like Echo and Strangers in Paradise is well-known as a consummate professional, telling stories featuring realistic female characters which try new things with the format and progress ideas about how to structure and tell a story. But up until now, he’d never tried anything too strange. Sure, he’d used sci-fi before, but his new venture ‘Rachel Rising’ is a straight-up horror story, slowly telling an increasingly unsettling and strange series of events which has created an off-beat take on the idea of horror.

Issue #7, the first issue I’ve picked up from the series, is in black and white, drawn entirely by Moore. Published by Abstract Studios, the book has a lush feel to it — and a cover which, if you look carefully enough, reveals some very strange activity indeed going on. This issue focuses on Rachel, who has just survived a car crash which put her aunt in a hospital and one of her friends in the morgue. But a string of unexpected details have started to knit themselves together, moving the story into distinctly uncanny territory. Moore handles this nicely, explaining the current status quo for new readers without forcing anything in. His page composition is, obviously, absolutely lovely, with the first three pages a masterclass in how to decompress a story in order to express the characters. The following conversational scenes are similarly well-arranged, moving the story around just as quickly as Moore wants.

I won’t mention the twists, but there’s a notable element of black humour pervading the book which actually works in establishing the tone of the story. One character’s indignation at her current predicament is played for laughs, but also helps to place the horror elements into what was a fairly straightforward story. Her sense of dignity contrasts with her surroundings, and that dichotomy rises across the issue as a whole. The characters just want to move along in a normal way, but these tiny little strings of information keep getting dangled in front of them. Without having to write anything extreme, or resorting to violence, Moore is able to use the readers’ growing sense of unease to create elements of horror. The final scene, when it comes, is brilliantly cleverly, and works because it’s placed in such a realistic setting. The reactions of those nearby connect to the oddness of the scene to create unease, then horror.

Rachel Rising is a lovely, lush comic book. Well-crafted and paced, the story walks at its own pace and tells the story exactly the way Moore wants readers to read it. It’s well-worth picking up.


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