Reading Spread #1 feels like popping in an old VHS tape with an intriguing painted cover only to discover an unnerving and unpredictable reel of weirdness play out. It’s creepy, gory, cold, and violent, and it’s also a lot of fun.
This is a horror story with a survivalist aspect to it, but writer Justin Jordan keeps Spread refreshingly free of the soap opera elements that litter the newly popularized genre. The take is more Mad Max than The Walking Dead, and the plot is executed through action rather than dialogue.
Lone Wolf and Cub is clearly an influence, with most of the pages focused on a stoic badass simply called “No” and his proxy Cub, an infant named Hope. It’s a classic dynamic in action storytelling, used successfully in comics like Road to Perdition and Grendel: War Child. What makes the pairing unique and compelling here is the bizarre world Jordan and artist Kyle Strahm place their duo in.
Strahm delivers great artwork that really stands out from other horror comics. The lights are on and we can see everything. He shows us the Spread unfolding across pages like a membrane of creatures from John Carpenter’s The Thing. The meaty, angular components of the Spread are linked together in a frightening mass, with clear beginnings and endings hard to determine. It’s a unique scale, not so much on the level of a zombie or monster, but rather a complete existential threat. And it’s scary as hell.
Colorist Felipe Sobreiro contributes a lot to the book’s creepy vibe. The Spread is rendered in appallingly vivid shades of crimson and red, looking disturbingly organic. The landscape around the cast is stark, cold, and barren, making the Spread’s appearances that much more powerful. Sobreiro’s color work meshes excellently with Strahm’s rough pencils, and the combination makes for some fantastic comic art.
Fans of sci-fi, post-apocalyptic fiction, and scary stories will find a lot to love in Spread #1. Creators Jordan, Strahm, and Sobreiro blend classic genre elements together to produce something new and exciting. It’s an unnerving yet entertaining ride. Read this one late at night, and keep a few extra lights on.