Read This Book- ‘The Cull’ from Kelly Thompson & Mattia De Iulis

One of my favorite genres of fiction is Magical Realism, where you take the world, as it is, with all its mundanities, and add an element of fantasy to it. This sometimes gets referred to as “Urban Fantasy” or just straight fantasy, but Magical Realism is more than that.

In a work of Magical Realism the magic exists to contrast to the world around it. It is a commentary on the real world, not a deep dive into lore or adventure story in a world of magic. Harry Potter doesn’t fit the model for this, but works like Beloved do. Magical Realism is deep and introspective, and at the end of the story good works in this genre should make us think harder about our own world than about the world of fantasy and magical the work introduces.

I’m explaining all of this because today’s comic, The Cull from Image Comics, has a number of hints towards this genre that definitely got me interested, and hopefully, after you read my review today, you’ll be interested too!

So let’s crack into The Cull issue 1, and see why this book has me so hyped!

Here’s the blurb:

Eisner-winning writer KELLY THOMPSON (BLACK CLOAK) and superstar artist MATTIA DE IULIS(Captain America) team up for their first creator-owned work together!

Something is Killing the Children horror vibes mix with The Goonies-style adventure as five friends set off to shoot a short film on a forbidden rock near their home the summer before they all go their separate ways. But that’s not really why they’re there. One of them has lied. And that lie will change their lives forever.

The first issue of The Cull is the very definition of a slow burn, for better and for worse. You see, the majority of this first issue is devoted to setting up the cast of characters we will be following, with small hints and winks to the issues that each one of them is dealing with, everything from relationship drama to physical abuse, and it’s all done in such a way that it lulls you into a false sense of where this first issue is going.

Or at least it would if the second page of this comic didn’t look like this…

What the heck is that?! There is so much going on in this single image that literally stops you in your tracks. A giant monster, someone being eaten by a plant, missing shoes? It’s a shocking image that, while beautifully drawn, literally smacks you in the face.

And this image is immediately followed by the much more mundane realities of the lives of the characters we are going to be following. We shift immediately to the group all leaving their homes, very early in the morning, in order to beat the tide and film their movie at the beach.

I’m not going to lie, when I first read through this issue of The Cull I saw that image and froze a bit, then started to rush through the rest of the issue. Where did this come into play in the story? It’s a weird bit of tonal whiplash to go from that image to kids sneaking around in the dark.

I was so caught up in that image that it took me a minute to realize I was whipping through the rest of the pages to figure out what the heck was going on in the story, and I had to pause and go back to the beginning to start the issue again.

My second readthrough was much more focused. I skipped staring at the big monster, and instead focused on where the story was taking me. This is a comic about making a movie. That image must be a special effect, so I focused on the characters and found myself enjoying the book a good deal more.

And the art! The Cull has that beautiful painted style that I like so much. De Iulis has a real talent for not only scale, but also figure poses and expressions. I know that might not sound that impressive, but you’d be amazed at how many comic artists struggle with a sense of scale. Think about how big Galactus actually is and you’ll understand what I’m saying!

Once I got beyond that image at the start, The Cull really came into perspective for me. I honestly got so focused on the characters that I forgot the giant monster, which really helped when it came to understand things in the book that happen later on. There are some surprises at the end that I don’t want to spoil, but it will definitely make you go back and reread this book more than once. And since I stated a little while ago that my focus was helping you pick out books that would get you your money’s worth, I feel very confident in recommending this book to everyone as a solid investment and well worth the value.

A great story with hints towards a fantastic genre, amazing art that catches the eye and the imagination, and a new story from a top notch creative team, The Cull #1 is definitely worth checking out!

Ask your LCS to pull you a copy this week, and until next time, Stay Safe.

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