Title: Basketful of Heads.
Series: Hill House Comics #1.
Writer(s): Joe Hill.
Artist(s): Leomacs (Raccardo la Bella for Pencils issue #5).
Colourist(S): Dave Stewart.
Letterer(s): Deron Bennett.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Release Date: September 8th, 2020.
Genre(s): Comics, Horror.
My Overall Rating:
Also in the Hill House Comics series:
The Dollhouse Family by Mike Carey.
The Low, Low Woods by Carmen Maria Machado.
Daphne Byrne by Laura Marks.
Plunge by Joe Hill.
The horror genre has a way to sneak up on a person and tug on their heartstrings as the tension rises and their worst fears grow relentlessly. Whatever medium is used, there is always a way to reach the target audience and trigger their imagination. Even in comic books. Crawling his way to DC Comics, critically-acclaimed writer Joe Hill (Heart-Shaped Box, NOS4A2, Horns, Locke & Key) creates and curates his own cutting-edge horror comics line under the DC Black Label imprint, calling itself the Hill House Comics. With five original limited series written by some of the biggest names in horror story-telling, the first graphic novel, collecting all 7-issues of this series, introduces writer Joe Hill and artist Leomacs to fans with a story filled with mystery, gore, and heads.
What is Basketful of Heads about? The story follows the young and eccentric June Branch as she returns to Body Island to visit her boyfriend, Liam, for a hot and calm summer weekend. Unfortunately for them, their adventure quickly shifts from romantic to terrifying when a group of escaped criminals breaks into their house. While Liam runs to arm himself, June flees only to later safely equip herself with a strange 8th-century Viking axe that has more to it than just an age-old legend attached to it. As she’s off to find Liam and unravel the truth before she loses her loved one, she quickly discovers the magical and supernatural powers of her axe and descends into madness as she tries to survive through lies, manipulation, and terror.
“Once that you’ve decided on a killin’… If you find that your hands are still willing… Murder into an art!”— Joe Hill
This worked wonderfully for what it was. The story’s structure is quite simple and inevitably brings into play some predictable twists but the narrative never fizzles out thanks to some of the most brutal and gory sequences ever. The subtle dark humour infused into the dialogue at strategic story-telling moments, especially when it is time for revelations, also adds a little fun madness into the insane horror plot. The protagonist’s innocence also helps give readers the chance to identify themselves in her behaviour, as she struggles to survive. After all, she does whatever it takes to get the truth behind what’s going on while fearing for her life. The core mystery isn’t mind-boggling but sufficiently developed to push June towards an end goal that coincidentally also sends her down a dark path towards darkness and madness.
Artist Leomacs achieves an incredible result with this horror story as he brilliantly conveys the setting, the tension, the horror, and the gore. The larger panels explicitly capturing the most tragic moments are fantastic, beautifully conveying the pain and the terror of the involved characters. At times, when the action scenes haven’t arrived yet, writer Joe Hill’s verbose dialogue is noticeable but remains, more often than not, a welcome break in tension to properly elaborate on the mystery and the various characters in this world. This also allows Leomacs to focus his attention on facial expressions, perfectly illustrating the emotional atmosphere of the story. Add in Dave Stewart’s colouring that gives this graphic novel a diluted yet dark tone, and voilà, you got yourself an excellent all-around horror story that successfully introduces the Hill House Comics line-up to the world.
Basketful of Heads is a tense and exciting horror story featuring one lady with her supernatural axe and a basket ready to welcome heads.