Tomorrow another Black Mask #1 hits the stands. Like most new Black Mask books, it is unlike any other title this publisher prints. The Disciples pins together the collaborative genius of Steven Niles and Christopher Mitten, who have worked together on major projects such as 30 Days of Night and Criminal Macabre. They join forces once again, this time with Mitten on the illustrations, to create a sci-fi horror that will make your skin crawl.
All well constructed sci-fi horrors follow a similar template. The template begins with a fairly slow introduction to all the characters, giving most of them their own little moment. This sets the calming, yet at times creepy tone as we get to know some of the actors we will be spending time with, and some of the unfortunate protagonist who we will be spending not so much time with. This opening will often contain a mysterious creepy scene, usually provided by a dream or a vision of some kind. The purpose being two fold; first, to indirectly let the audience know who the main character is and what troubles them, second, it is to set up the creepy atmosphere that raises the guard and keeps it there, even when nothing is really happening in the beginning stages of the story. While the opening of sci-fi horror stories usually start the same, they also continue to slowly build as the circumstances get more and more injected with terror. A great example of this template is Event Horizon. The slow moving beginning is where all the interesting concepts are revealed and the anticipation of the mission starts to build. By the end of that movie things have become so out of hand it is hard to believe we are still watching the same film. Sci-fi horror is my favourite type of comic experience because the template aids so well to a serialized story. There is an underlying creepy tone throughout these stories but the events can change so drastically that from month to month you will have no idea what to expect next.
The Disciples first issue is a beautifully constructed setup issue for this sci-horror. If I quickly flip through all the pages, not really much happens. There are a lot of space panels, a lot of ship panels and a lot of talking between the three main characters. Yet, it creates that uneasy feeling of angst as I await the impending doom I know is coming. Much like Grant Morrison’s recent Image book Nameless, The Disciples is a sci-fi horror which deals with religious as well as supernatural elements. Which is where the name of the book comes from.
The Disciples is about a space crew of three, who I assume are part of a work-for-hire rescue team. I believe this team can be privately hired to find someone. It also appears that there is some bounty hunting aspect to their job. In certain cases if the mark does not comply they can put him/her in the ground, or if anyone decides to stand in the way of a rescue, they will also find themselves in a shallow grave. The mission that drives this book is a rescue mission to the moons of Jupiter. A billionaire, who is very very religious, has taken his flock with him to colonize on these moons. The mission is to find a girl, who joined the colony when she was 18, and bring her back to her parents. If there is any pushback from the billionaire Richmond, things won’t end the way he planned when he woke up that morning. A very straight forward and interesting premise that is sure to have a lot of wild bumps on the way.
The leading lady’s name is Dagmar. She is the Ripley of this story, although she has a few moments in this book that show us there is more to her than we might expect. She mentions on two occasions she hopes they get to shoot someone on this mission. Perhaps she has some anger she needs to release. However, there is something very strange going on with Dagmar in this story. I won’t spoil it for anyone, but she is experiencing something which is the essence of the book’s creepy tone.
The first issue does a fantastic job of setting up the three main characters, giving them each their own moments to solidify their voice as characters of this story. My favourite part is an interaction between the two male characters Rick and moustache man (he was unnamed, not a good sign for him).
Moustache: “So we’re going after some whack-job. Is it a bring back or a bury?”
Rick: “Wrong on all accounts. Thanks for reading the case memo.”
Moustache: “I got things going on.”
The Disciples was a great first issue, setting the table of the creepy undertones and slow burn of a genre I love dearly. I am looking forward to the next issue and seeing where they end up going with this story. Even though the first issue was mostky setup, Niles and Mitten ramped up the crazy for that final page. I can’t wait to see what they do next. Pick up The Disciples #1 tomorrow at a comic shop near you!