Friday, 6 May 2016

The October Faction #5 - IDW Publishing

Having “got like five different storylines started in just the first issue”, Steve Niles dedicates the better part of this title’s fifth instalment to exploring Robot-Face and his misguided revenge upon Frederick for supposedly murdering the youth’s father. In fact “The King of Horror” spends over a third of the twenty-page periodical’s narrative alone simply portraying a fist-fight between Dante and the elderly Monster Killer’s overconfident son Geoff, after the “Warlock” discovers the grotesquely disfigured adolescent ‘stalking his sister’ in the grounds outside the Allan Family house.

Such a concentrated focus upon two supporting cast characters could potentially have proved rather tiresome to the 4,933 collectors who bought “The October Faction” in March 2015, especially as it soon becomes clear that Deloris' smartly-attired offspring is badly outmatched in the strength stakes by his mechanical opponent; “Maybe the ‘killing’ part was a bit much.” But in truth the rain-soaked brawl actually provides the New Jersey-born screenwriter’s storyline with some much-needed action and adventure, after it becomes a little too ‘bogged down’ in Vivian’s sentimentality towards her white-haired Dad, and the depressing revelation from Lucas that unless he “stay[s] a wolf man forever” he’ll die of “aggressive and inoperable” stomach cancer.

Lamentably however, once Robot Face does best Geoff, courtesy of a swift right uppercut to the jaw, the rather sedentary pace with which this edition began frustratingly returns anew and despite the Scream Awards-attendee providing a macabre insight into “the recently deceased” Merle Cope’s resurrection process, the opportunity to depict Dante violently breaking into Frederick’s home, overpowering the capable maid Saunders and menacing his helpless captive with a double-bladed axe is side-lined in favour of a dialogue-heavy depiction of Vivian collecting her parents from the local hospital... Although admittedly, the final page's cliff-hanger showing the startled family discovering their boy helplessly chair bound does prove to be an impressively appropriate climax to the book.

Providing plenty of atmosphere and colour to the proceedings, Damien Worm’s illustrations are arguably not consistently convincing either. The fight scene between Robot Face and Geoff is extremely-well pencilled, with Dante’s glowing red eyes looking especially menacing amidst an almost exclusively blue palette. Whilst Cope’s painful blood transfusion, carried out by his repugnant ‘sister’ Opal, looks suitably grim and objectionable with all it’s washed out amber hues. Yet the scenes depicting Lucas’ conversation that he needs some “basic blood tests” and Deloris’ collection from the infirmary seem rather lifeless and dispassionate…
The variant cover art of "THE OCTOBER FACTION" No. 5 by Damien Worm

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