What happens when the things that go bump in the night get a little bruised up after that bump? The Ward #1 from Dark Horse Comics introduces us to St. Lilith’s Hospital–a hospital run by preternatural beings for treating preternatural beings (“monsters” is an emotive slur). When a “non-pret” (aka, human) sees his neighbor with a grisly wound, ex-doctor Nat Reeves rushes her friend back to the ward she once thought she left behind. As Nat puzzles out how to treat her new patient, she comes face to face with her own wounds that might be too deep to treat.
Like an ambulance hurtling through traffic, this first issue of Cavan Scott and Andres Ponce’s Ward rushes us right into the chaos that is St. Lilith’s. Scott does a tremendous job making Nat’s character extremely relatable–from her reticence to endless office meetings to her strained relationship with her old, spooky boss, Nat acts as a solid anchor for readers to plunge themselves right into the story. And the way in which two patients’ medical emergencies weave together is border-line predictable but clever nonetheless.
Hospitals can be chaotic centers where the swirl of bodies and faces create sensory overload, and The Ward evokes that energy to the nth degree with the wide variety of beasts and ghouls that haunt the hallways. However, Scott and Ponce scale back just enough so that the mythical creatures and sizable cast of this first issue don’t overwhelm. And the various teases they drop to keep the story engaging deeper than a mere flesh wound.
As compelling as Nat is as a character, with all her various mysteries about her past, one question I had wasn’t obviously answered on my first read: What makes her preternatural? Or is she a human in a monster’s world? Also, with all the setup that was done in this issue, the ending made it almost too setup-y in that we were left less with a cliffhanger and more with a “next time, on…” conclusion.
There are way, way too many medical dramas on TV, but making a comicbooky medical drama with the Minotaur here and the two-headed man there feels fresh. The Ward #1 gives us a strong protagonist with a shrouded backstory that is sure to win the series a spot on pull lists. At the same time, the lack of compelling drama by the end of the book may leave some with the impression that this is a one-and-done.
Mythological Medical Mayhem10.0/10
Nat and her haunted past8.0/10
Two patients who might know each other too well7.0/10
No real cliffhanger5.0/10
- Writer: Cavan Scott
- Artist: Andres Ponce
- Letterer: Mauro Mantella
- Cover Artists: Andres Ponce, Franco Riesco
- Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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