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The graphic novel is one of the best ways to discover (or rediscover) comics in an affordable format. One can pick up and read an entire storyline and, based on that, the reader can decide whether or not to purchase it. After reading NORTH 40, this reviewer wonders if anyone would want to waste their money on this…
The idea of Aaron Williams’ NORTH 40 (WildStorm) isn’t that original. We have seen this in numerous horror films and novels. In the little town of Lufton (a fictitious southern town in Conover County), two teenagers open a demonic book that puts everyone in the county to sleep. When they awaken, Hell is unleashed. Some gain superhuman powers while some are transformed into demonic creatures. Overall, this ain’t Hazzard Country, and the Duke Boys sure aren’t gonna help bail everyone out.The main problem with NORTH 40 is that the story is way too rushed. The events of what transpired are never fully explained. This is a horror comic that offers no real scares or surprise twists. We are introduced to characters that come from nowhere all at once. What Williams should have done was slow the pace of the story down and introduce all of the major characters in the first chapter, and then explained the origin of the book. Then the second chapter would be the next day, exploring the results of the opening of said book. Instead, Williams tries to cram too much into the first chapter of NORTH 40, so much so that it affects the rest of the graphic novel. Sometimes when you’re seeing a character, you might find yourself going back to check if this is a new character or if it’s one you were already introduced to.There is no character development whatsoever in NORTH 40. You don’t care about the people of Conover County, nor do you care what happens to Conover County. As a result, you aren’t emotionally involved with the simple townsfolk who must fight the madness that has come to plague their home.On the plus side, Fiona Staples’ artwork is excellent. Her unique style of art is perfect for this genre and she captures the look of Small Town, USA. One has to ponder that if she teamed up with a better story, her already topnotch artwork would be taken to the next level.NORTH 40 had the potential to become a big commercial hit in the comic book world, much like in the same vein as Y: THE LAST MAN ON EARTH or THE WALKING DEAD. Instead, we’re left with an empty feeling and an empty wallet. If you want a great graphic novel that will scare, terrify and haunt you, then pass on this one. In the horror genre, NORTH 40 offers nothing to the fans and falls flat on its face. This is one title that needs to be buried alive and never resurrected again.
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