Survivors’ Club #7
Writer: Lauren Beukes, Dale Halvorsen
Artist: Ryan Kelly
Colourist: Eva de la Cruz
Letterer: Clem Robins
Editor: Shelly Bond
A review by Amelia Wellman
I love smart, original horror. Books like The Haunting of Hill House. Movies like Hellraiser. Videogames like Fatal Frame. I love horror that goes beyond the undead, serial murderer slicing up teenagers and raises questions that aren’t inherently scary like repressed memories or sexual desire. It affects you more and stays with you for a lasting horror experience. So imagine my surprise that I’d yet to hear about Survivors’ Club, a comic series seven issues in that’s dark and twisted and definitely outside the box. It’s even being hailed as a modern throwback to The Hellblazer series. How could I resist?
Survivors’ Club is about a small group of people that all experienced something supernatural in the year 1987 that’s left them with paranormal scars. Everyone’s story is being told, but the main focus has been on Chenzira as she’s the one that gathers them all together in the first place. By issue seven we’re wrapping up Chenzira’s storyline but neck deep in all the others.
Each individual story is gruesomely unique. I personally think Kiri’s is the best, but there’s no denying the appeal of each horrible tale, be it Alice’s “split” personalities, Simon’s classic haunted house, Teo’s suspicious neck scars, or Harvey’s friend Mr. Empty. Chenzira’s tale is the first one to be told and, in this issue, the first to be wrapped up, and is about a demonic videogame that gets inside your head and eats away at your sanity. She played it in an arcade as a child and, after it causes a small-scale disaster, it’s haunted her.
But how does the high-concept story read? Pretty much like anything else dark and weird Vertigo has put out! Seriously, as someone who’s read nearly every single thing Constantine has ever been in, qualifying this story as a throwback to the classic Hellblazer is spot on. There are a lot of times where Hellblazer will leave you feeling anywhere from disconcerted to down-right ill. It’s not necessarily because of the content of the story but because the story doesn’t play out like how it should. It’ll approach something resembling normalcy and then take a sharp turn away from it. It doesn’t flow quite right and that makes it more an ethereal dream you wake up from feeling anxious. Survivors’ Club is exactly this. Exactly.
The ethereal discontent translates to the art style as artist Ryan Kelly and colourist Eva del la Cruz have created something quite horrifying to behold. The abominable look of the monster that serves as Chenzira’s final boss and the thing that’s been incubating in Teo’s body all these years are disturbing fuel for all your body horror nightmares. And though there are colours throughout, all but blood red are muted.
Check it out! This series isn’t going to be something that everyone will like. It could even polarize horror fans if you go in expecting one thing and then see what’s on offer. So check out the first couple issues of Survivors’ Club and see where you stand on it. I, myself, am completely sold!