31 Days of Horror 2022 Presents Read This Book- ‘Dark Ride’ from Joshua Williamson and Image Comics

It’s spooky season once again, and that means a slew of Halloween inspired books are hitting the shelves all month.

I’ve long attested to the fact that I am not a horror expert, or even much of a horror enthusiast, but I do love this time of year, so even my natural reluctance is overcome by the crush of Halloween madness.

This week I’ll be looking at a new book from Image Comics, Dark Ride #1. It’s a brand new series by one of my all time favourite authors ,Joshua Williamson, so I overcame my natural squeamishness to check the book out. The verdict? Well read on and find out!

Here’s the blurb: WELCOME TO THE SCARIEST PLACE ON EARTH!
Devil Land has been the world’s premiere horror-themed amusement park for over 50 years home to the scariest ride ever created-the Devil’s Due.

But when lifelong fan Owen Seasons begins his first day on the job he will discover the true horrors happening behind the scenes the truth about the park’s reclusive creator Arthur Dante and that the job of his dreams might just be a living nightmare.

JOSHUA WILLIAMSON (NAILBITER Batman) and ANDREI BRESSAN (BIRTHRIGHT) reunite for a thrilling plunge into murder mayhem and sinister family secrets in this all-new Skybound original series.

You know, it’s weird how much I tend to dislike a lot of horror stories, since Frankenstein is one of my favourite books of all time. I actually think that everyone likes to be scared to some degree, but the things we find frightening really vary from person to person.

One of my number one complaints with horror, especially modern horror, is that it’s either all about gore, or all about jump scares. I like creeping, psychological horror, the kind where you stay up late thinking about the implications of what you see. I know I’m in the minority with that, or at least Hollywood seems to think so, which is weirdly why I tend to enjoy horror comics more than I like horror movies.

In comics, the ideas have room to develop, grow, and then, ultimately, fester in the brain. You have time, issue to issue, to really think about the work, and what’s going to happen as you read. It’s hard to do jump scares, and even the best gore is still just a drawing and easy to gloss over, but psychological horror? That works great.

And that’s a big part of why I really dug Dark Ride. There’s a lot of mystery in this first issue, and every little clue you get just makes you ask more questions about what is going on. Each new character adds a different twist to where you might have thought the book was going, and even though the ending of the first issue felt a tad predictable, there’s enough left up in the air from how it was done to still make you unsure about anything you’re seeing on the page.

Dark Ride leaves you unsettled, and to me, that’s what the best kind of horror does.

Our story, in brief, is that many years ago, would be theme park designer Arthur Dante was fired for trying to design a theme park ride that was considered to be too scary. His wife, upset with this news, lashed out at him, and in a rage he murdered her and buried her body in the desert.

This should have been the end for Arthur, but a mysterious voice from the grave reached out to him and offered him a deal.

Jump cut to many years in the future where Arthur has managed to create an entire theme park themed around horror, a Disneyland of the damned if you will.

Owen Seasons, a new hire, is thrilled to finally get to explore the park as an employee, finding out about all the behind the scenes stuff that he never knew about before, and eventually having a run in with Arthur’s son Samhain.

Owen quickly learns that all is not as he imagined at the park. We learn that the park is on the decline, Arthur has become an even more deranged recluse, and Arthur’s children are now squabbling over the future of the park. But Arthur has a plan to turn things around, a plan that doesn’t bode well for our hero.

All in it it’s a fun first issue. The art is solid, with some neat monster designs and a general disturbing air that puts you slightly on edge. Everything at the park seems a little dingy and grimy, like it’s obvious that this park has seen better days.

The cast is also pretty fun, with your standard horror tropes all mixed together under one banner of employment. I really dug where the story seems to be going, and I will definitely pick up the next issue.

If you’re looking for a spooky read this Halloween season, check out Dark Ride #1. It’s got all the horror trappings you love, from a creative team you can trust.

Alright my friends, until next time, Stay Safe.

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