Abstract Studios 2012 $17 cover price, 120 pages
Terry Moore has made a serious name for himself in the arena of creator owned comics. Most known for the amazing Strangers in Paradise (SiP), and recently Echo, his work spans a relatively short amount of time, starting in the early 90’s with SiP. While he has done small stints on books for Marvel and DC, most notably taking over from Joss Whedon on Runaways, to most of his fans he is the creator of some powerful and touching works. It is difficult and maybe even pointless to discuss this new book without comparing it to what has come before. Moore’s fans will inevitably try to make comparisons. They love the work he has given them so far, and with good reason, but there will always be the shadow of everything he has done over what he is doing, so…
Echo was a significant departure from SiP in that it was a much shorter work, (30 issues compared to SiP‘s 100+) and of a more complex and dark tone. You never get the feeling that things will be alright in Echo, and that is a good thing. It kept you guessing. Rachel Rising is still another departure for Moore, and holy crap, it is impressive!
The story starts with the title character digging her way out of her own shallow grave. As she tries to piece together what happened to her, enlisting family and friends to help her, Death seems to follow her every step of the way. As this first volume progresses, we are introduced to several others that very quickly join the main story in flashes of extreme and violent behavior, that is clearly not of their own creation. There is something exerting a dark influence on many of the people of the town of Manson, acting with an agenda and obvious malice. As things in the first volume unfold we see there may be a very specific connection between this force and Rachel.
Thematically, this could not be farther from SiP, but at the same time, Moore’s knack for interesting characters and compelling interaction between them carries this book, and makes it seem familiar and comfortable. There is an element of the fantastical and mystical in the story that appears to have a strong influence on what will happen down the road.
Even the covers here hint at the differences. SiP had vibrant and lively covers, Echo having very iconic, more heroic ones. This book has stark, largely colorless covers, much more fitting the dark story. The interior art is much like Moore’s work in Echo, which is loose and flows nicely. At times in the past, the art in some of his works was more polished and glossy, but here, that would detract from the book. The pages are solid black instead of the usual white borders and gutters, and the art is more densly, packed with much more information than earlier works. This greatly affects the books pacing. I felt that Echo read very fast, maybe too fast. Not so here. The pace is slower and more intense. I felt myself pulling away from the pages, and not just because of the content. There is a lot to take in here. It is a story that will very quickly grab you and keep you interested. When I reviewed the first issue of this last August, I felt that it went far too quickly, and the first chapter does. It ends very sharply and leaves you off your footing. Once the second chapter starts it creates the pace and controls the reader. Reading the first six issues in one volume now I can see what the intent was, and it is masterful.
I was hooked on this book from issue one. I had intended not to trade wait, but other concerns made me back burner this and get the first collected volume instead. This is not something that everyone would like. There are things here that are very popular right now like the undead and the supernatural, but this book is so much more than sparkly vampires or walking zombies. If you do not fall for these characters quickly, I would be surprised. Moore is still creating magic. This time it is in the form of a scared dead girl and her friends, and some very nasty things are going to happen to them before it is all over. Do join us, won’t you?