Road trips are bound to have at least one or two unexpected situations: a blown tire, odd locals, or maybe a hotel that doesn’t quite meet expectations upon arrival. In Vanessa’s case, it’s The Breach: an interdimensional rift that suddenly invites Lovecraftian nightmares into our world.
Written by Ed Brisson with art by Damian Couceiro, Beyond the Breach #1 follows Vanessa as she embarks on her dream road trip. However, the circumstances behind her decision aren’t as joyful. Her mother recently passed away from cancer, and, to top it off, she caught her now ex-boyfriend cheating with her sister during the entire ordeal. It’s enough to push anyone to leave their life behind in the rearview mirror. But when The Breach knocks her and the rest of California on its knees, Vanessa suddenly finds herself scrambling to get back home in one piece. Tagging along with her is a recently orphaned boy named Dougie and a strange fuzzy creature named Kai.
The premise is simple, and Brisson, thankfully, doesn’t waste anytime introducing it. The opening pages are well-paced thanks to Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s expressive lettering and Couceiro’s strong, story-driven panel layouts. Like a car crash you know is about to happen, there’s a sneaking suspicion something terrible is going to happen to Vanessa as she celebrates her newfound freedom. And when The Breach hits, you’re left feeling the same shock that Vanessa goes through as hideous, centipede monsters slowly chow down on unlucky humans caught in their path.
Unfortunately, this issue moves too fast for its own good at times. Specifically, I felt no attachment to Dougie, the orphaned child that gets thrust into Vanessa’s care. As visceral as some of the gory bits were in this issue, Dougie’s introduction sort of just happens. There’s a bit of tension when Vanessa saves Dougie, but it pales in comparison to what we see just before. It doesn’t help that there are a bunch of Ewok-esque creatures defending themselves with giant forks, which brings me to Kai. Kai is one of those Ewok-esque creatures, and the only reason they seem to be around is to provide levity. Normally, I’m okay with a little humor sprinkled into horror stories, but, in Beyond the Breach, the mismatching tones are a glaring hindrance.
Beyond the Breach is a well-made issue that, as of now, doesn’t really know what it wants to be quite yet. Is this a dark, Lovecraftian survival story or a whimsical, heartful ’80s fantasy adventure? My bet is on the latter, but I really prefer the dark horror in this issue. There also isn’t a good enough reason to care about anyone else besides Vanessa. But the creature designs and pacing is enough to keep me interested, and I’ve enjoyed Brisson’s work before, so I’m willing to continue with the second issue at the very least. As of now though, Beyond the Breach still needs to find its footing.
Beyond the Breach #1
- Writer: Ed Brisson
- Artist: Damian Couceiro
- Colorist: Patricio Delpeche
- Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
- Cover Artists: Damian Couceiro, Patricio Delpeche
- Editor: Christina Harrington
- Publisher: Aftershock Comics