I've been with The Beyond the Printed Page community (join here) since its inception; it is a small, specialized community and it has given me more reason to pick up comic books that has been declared ‘adult reading material: you must be 18 (in the head) or older to buy this comic’ so here I am taking a chance on the first issue of “Stitched”; since it has been stamped as ‘gore' (and that cover just grabbed me). Written by Garth Ennis (Preacher) and illustrated by Mike Wolfer, the title is published by Avatar Press and is being released as a new series. Upon picking up the title, I picked the goriest and bloodiest cover to issue one (there are 4 plus variant covers coming), since, well, I am a gorehound in some ways. The comic series does have a simple enough premise but I have to say I am very interested as to where this comic is headed.
The story begins in Afghanistan as a Black Hawk helicopter on the way to an extraction mission ‘Idaho 6” crashes with no true apparent reason save for engine malfunction. Survivors Cooper and Twiggs along with a wounded Lt. Pruitt try to make it back to command post in the dry hot desert; avoiding the Taliban and other desert creatures. But things are about to become worst, as something tracking them. This ‘something’ is something that is unexplained, inhuman and terrifying….and it is hell-bent on killing anyone…anyone!
Garth Ennis has a reputation for making horror stories that push the envelope and he seems to be trying to outdo his own work with “Stitched”. The first issue is insanely graphic that gorehounds would be the comic’s target reader. Entrails are exposed, guns are shoved into faces, inhuman hands are shoved into mouths, blood and human organs are splattered all over the place; the comic is just so violent that it could make “The Hills Have Eyes” or the “Saw” movies seem like they were normal boring movies (this was inspired by a short film made by Ennis) and make the violence in other horror comic titles seem common and mainstream. Well, ‘gore is in the eyes of the beholder’ and so the comic was pretty simple to me, but it was deliciously awesome. I thought much of the gore illustrations by Wolfer were pretty creative and it did have a lot of potential to shock the reader.
Wolfer was pretty detailed in the art, he seemed to pay attention to facial features and expressions and creature designs which proved to be the comic book’s main draw; not to mention the sheer graphic nature of the horror elements. The writing does keep a lot of detail unrevealed in this first issue, as the creatures being driven with a hooded man was kept in mystery. The creatures were odd, and they resembled mummies and those stitched up ghouls that we’ve seen in legends. I really am not sure what their motivations are, save that an odd noise precedes their arrival, they have a hook-like blade and that they are not after human flesh, but rather certain parts of the body. It is extremely tough for them to be killed since they all showed the qualities of being undead or something. Issue one isn’t all about details but rather to grab the reader into getting into the comic.
Ennis keeps the dialogue simple and I was a little surprised that he kept profanity to a minimum and avoids the stereotypes of soldiers as with 'potty mouths'. He also adds some new characters into the mix, as Cooper’s group meets up with the team of Bravo One-Five. Much as the gore and blood were the first issue’s main focus to capture our imagination, I believe it may be safe to assume that there is a mystery to unfold with future issues, but one thing is for sure, the rules and sensibilities of a survival horror comic have been established and so, it would be safe to assume that this is where it is headed. I would be surprised if it went another way, but I hope it isn’t what I think it is.
So would you say “Stitched” is a good comic? Too soon to tell, but I know Ennis and I believe there is much more to this than blood, graphic violence and gore. Issue one’s intentions were to get the reader’s attention and to get one hooked; I am not hooked yet, but I have to say, I am very interested what lies ahead for the title.