“COLDER: THE BAD SEED #1” (Comic Review)Book and Comic Reviews,Books/Art/Culture,News Svetlana Fedotov
When COLDER first hit shelves in late 2012, no one quite knew what to expect. With its dimension-hopping protagonist, panoramic horror-scapes, and a story that explores the very depths of human insanity, the sleeper hit soon rose in the comic ranks and even managed to snatch itself a coveted Eisner nomination. With the work’s overwhelming success, the once limited series is now seeing its second story arc and bringing back with it all the gruesome madness that made it famous. THE BAD SEED picks up from where the previous arc ended and introduces a new villain almost immediately after the disposal of the old one, proving there is never respite when dealing with terminally insane.
[For those who have not read the previous series, there will be revealing details ahead.]
In COLDER, we were introduced to Declan, a former inmate/patient with a past dimmer than his head. One day, as nurse Reece Talbot takes care of him, Declan rises from a catatonic state to reveal he has the ability to glimpse into afflicted brains and take away their insanity. Unfortunately, he can only do it so much, as each attempt drops his body temperature. With the arrival of Nimble Jack, a malevolent force that feeds on human chaos, he is forced to not only protect himself, but Reece from Jack’s hunger. As he hops to and from our world and the (literal) world of the mad, he eventually destroys Nimble Jack while winning the love of Reece.
THE BAD SEED continues flowering the beautiful relationship between Reece and Declan. Spending their days curing the dearly depraved and the nights professing their undying love, things have finally turned around for the star-crossed lovers. But their happiness couldn’t last long as a new evil named Swivel emerges from the shadows and is intent on finding Declan. Though it’s unclear what this new threat wants with Declan, it’ll destroy everything in sight to get to him, especially if involves other living beings.
Admittedly an excellent addition to the COLDER series, THE BAD SEED doesn’t offer much of anything that the previous run didn’t already. Where the horror elements are once again top notch, the story manages to suffer the similar pitfalls. Having human madness exist as an actual, physical domain with actual, physical monsters adds a unique depth to the story and lends credibility to the inhuman monsters that emerge from said world. Creators Paul Tobin and Juan Ferreyra have this amazing, over the top vision that could have easily devolved into a stew pot of badly handled monster parts and too-many-ideas, but instead have managed to materialize in a very natural, sublime way that hasn’t been seen since early DC/Vertigo work. They carefully pick and choose what they want the reader to focus on, while creating a universe brimming with possibility. Ferreyra’s visuals only solidify that ingenuity as he fills page after page with hideous, original monsters and blood-curdling terror colored in a gentle watercolor hue.
The development of Reece and Declan (which seemed to have been pushed off onto a secondary plot) here is woefully under-cooked however. Both of the key players start off great—with Reece an independent nurse with a strong heart and depthless well of compassion and Declan as a man lost in time and perhaps even immortal—and yet somehow manage to devolve into the inevitable lovers in a what appears to be a week’s time. With THE BAD SEED #1, Declan and Reece now make love daily, whisper sweet nothings, and brag to Reece’s friends about how awesome Declan is. Sure, there is nothing wrong with romance in a horror comic, but when that is the whole point of existence for both characters, the entire relationship starts to feel formulaic and frankly, cheapens the work.
Despite the lack of originality for the happy couple, COLDER and COLDER: THE BAD SEED shouldn’t be ingored for what it really is: an unparalleled vision of horror that spans multiple realities of life. With the introduction of the terrifying Swivel, there is no doubt that we will find ourselves deeper into the maddening world of Tobin and Ferreyra than we ever wanted to be.