This “blend” in the debut issue of Image Comics’ The Closet is not immediate, but when that shift eventually comes, readers are thrown for a loop.
Warning! Spoilers ahead for The Closet #1!
A new series called The Closet desde Image Comics successfully blends supernatural horror with nuanced real-life adult problems in a satisfying way. Image has produced more than a few great horror comics like the perfectly titled F*** This Placeand they knock it out of the park once again with The Closet
New American comic books always enter the market at a major disadvantage as opposed to more established series due to a lack of name recognition. As a result, creators face the daunting dilemma of having to capture readers’ attention immediately to keep them from drifting to a superhero comic, causing writers to come up with something outlandish or eye-grabbing within the first few panels or, at least, the first page. A comic like The Closet that does in fact incorporate supernatural horror would be expected to push that aspect of the story immediately, but that’s not the case.
Instead, the first thing readers see is a normal-looking guy in a regular bar talking about ordinary problems in The Closet #1 by writer James Tynion IV (who also wrote the acclaimed The Department of Truth), artist Gavin Fullerton, colorist Chris O’Halloran and letterer Tom Napolitano. Of course, Gavin’s eerie cover art promises that the inside pages will delve into the well-known “monster in the closet” trope, so even more skittish readers who may have been initially thrown by the ordinariness of the opening scene are more likely to tough it out until that creepiness finally finds its way into the story. But the perfect execution of dialogue during this bar scene is enough to make the wait for this eventual transition actually enjoyable. It reads like a well-executed play as the husband details her various problems at home.
In truth, the actual “blend” of real-life problems with supernatural horror only comes later. The only comment during this bar scene suggesting horror occurs when the husband mentions that his son is having nightmares. When the comics’ creators eventually position the story in a way that sets up the possibility for horror, readers are more inclined to feel anything but anticipation. The child is afraid to sleep alone and his parents are too busy, but the length to which the father tries to help his kid is heartwarming. Although the boy’s scared, the comic focuses more on the fact that he’s just a kid who doesn’t want to be left alone. Readers want the father to interact with his son not to keep him safe from the horrors that are to come but so that the boy isn’t lonely. It’s what makes the sudden transition at the end of the first issue more effective when the boy’s imaginary fear is presented as a real and present danger.
The combination of the masterfully rendered cover and the expertly crafted dialogue in the opening scenes keep readers enraptured and engaged in Image Comics’ new series enough so when that promised horror does finally present itself, the impact is much more profound. Readers are also left with another aspect of what The Closet actually means to keep them speculating. While the cover and especially the last few pages suggest it represents supernatural horror, the husband also mentions some drama revolving around another closet, not his son’s, that could impact the story going forward, evoking this perfect blend of everyday problems with supernatural horror.
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The Closet #1 is available now from Image Comics!
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