W – Michael Moreci/Tim Daniel A – Joshua Hixson C – Jordan Boyd L – Jim Campbell
First issues already have quite the burden to carry. It has to be catchy enough to get people to pay attention while providing enough substance to show that it isn’t just an attention whore. The issue has to show enough of the potential for the book/creative team/premise while also being but a glimpse of what is to come. Characters and plot lines have to be established, concepts introduced, and there has to be something that unfolds that puts the “I’ll be back for more of this” cherry on the top for readers. All in all a first issue is already up against it and has plenty of challenges to over come. So what happens when you also thrust the pressure of being the Premier Title for a Publisher’s new imprint into the mix? In the case of The Plot Vault has gotten the perfect horror theme celebratory experience that they aim for with the Nightfall line. This is easily a title that can not just carry the weight of being “the flagship” but hold it aloft stronger than He-Man held his mighty sword.
There’s no secret with Moreci and Daniel’s writing. They unabashedly show their love for the genres they tackle but don’t simply retread tropes and go for the “cheap pop” thrills. While they use familiar pieces in their puzzles the work they put out is wholly their own. Plot illustrates this perfectly. In the pages of the first issue you’ll get an unsettling environment, characters that clearly aren’t what they seem, and a taste of the literal horror at play. The Plot is the terror that sit around the corner, the horror that resides in the shadows that stalk us and the dread that looms over us hidden in plain sight. Having read Moreci and Daniel prior to this I know “what” is coming. Obviously not exactly, but as the chapters unfold I’m aware that I’ll be wrong on half or more of what I thought as well as both terrified and entranced in the tale. My emotions will take a ride and with each layer they peel back I’ll both love and hate them. The aura surrounding this first chapter gives me those familiar goosebumps in nervousness and excitement. I couldn’t help but feel I was watching an opening episode as opposed to reading a first chapter. That’s what this book invokes. It draws us in and embraces us because it knows what it’s going to do to us. The subtle lines and drowning blacks on the page both ease and engulf with each turn of the page.
Enough gushing. To the goods.
Secrets are deadly. They do, in fact, kill. While the easiest thing in the world to have they’re the hardest thing to hold on to. Defined: kept from knowledge or view; hidden. Keeping the definition in mind will open up The Plot on whole new levels and cement just how deep the meaning behind this book really goes. We, the readers are aware there are secrets in the Blaine family. The Blaine family is certainly aware of this on individual levels. Using the veil of what secrets are and mean though, The Plot shrouds the unknown traditionally but also in a masterful storytelling way. Those within the book aren’t privy to all that we the readers are. Chase Blaine is now the guardian of his niece and nephew. The reason why and the catalyst for what’s to come is the absolutely brutal murder of his brother and sister-in-law. However, only we the readers can “see” the entirety of the horror. This is but one element that has set up a foreboding mood for The Plot. The design and look of each turned page reinforces the looming threat that the family secrets pose. It isn’t just that there are secrets hiding everywhere. The secrets themselves are hiding something too.
This is where the blend of the familiar horror tropes and the individual nuance and contributions from the creative team shine. The book is dark and bleak. In reading through you’ll get nothing but dread as the tone and feel on the pages engulfs you. From the lurking shadows you can see as well as the ones that seemingly reach off the page you can’t help but feel the tingle go up your spine and your hairs stand on end. Those goosebumps are telling you that you don’t want to find out more but you can’t help but keep peering around the next corner to see what’s revealed. Piling on even more so, there’s so much more that isn’t given to you while also making you fully aware that you simply have no idea just how deep of a rabbit hole this family falls. Just as importantly as the characters and aura surrounding them, the environment is just as important to the family’s tale. Just as the Blaine’s broken familial doings are evident, the Cape Augusta ancestral home and land also wears the story of underlying truth. The home itself reflects the affluence and, at least on the surface, ‘going against the grain’ strength and goodness that resides in Chase. It also has broken, run down areas that are currently being reconstructed. The overlook is of a black, all consuming bog because there’s nothing dreadful about that.
Could the fact that Chase is a contractor trying to renovate the Cape Augusta be a guise or an effort to paint the true form of this family member? On the surface he appears to be the stark contrast to what the entirety of this first issue is telling us about the family. We know he was estranged from his brother and lived on the opposite side of the country from the family. Yet, upon the untimely (and as we know, quite horrific) death of his brother and sister-in-law we find him open his heart to his niece, nephew, and the family home. Part of that is surely a direct tie to the fact that family is at least one chamber of this book’s heart. It is an all-encompassing premise and absolutely dives as deep as anything else. Marrying that theme to horror/terror is a common and extremely effective route when executed properly. This first issue is everything is great about the terror driven horror and family marriage. I question everything presented in this introduction to The Plot. The family itself, the ancestral plot itself, Chase, the brother and sister-in-law, the niece and nephew, and even the secrets themselves. THAT is the mastery of this creative team. They show love to and give you everything you’re familiar with in regards to horror stories. Then, they carve their own unique trail through the woods and uncover so much more you had no idea. It’s one thing to be told there are secrets everywhere and quite another to feel them lurking and watching you from everywhere as they lay waiting to strike.
I both do and don’t want to know how this all goes. I’m nervous, excited, and terrified of what each installment will bring. I question just how far they’ll go and how deep they can dig and stay true to the scene they’ve set.
I am sitting on pins and needles and I absolutely love it …
OUT THIS NCBD SEPT 25th!!!!!!
THE DCN GRADE FOR THE DEBUT ISSUE OF THE PLOT: 10 The premier title for the new Nightfall line does exactly what it is supposed to do, needed to do, and wanted to do. The visceral feel and emotionally driven dread have charted a bold course for the new imprint. Taking the charge of headlining, the creative team has delivered a perfect introduction for this deeply personal tale as well as the opening salvo for what will surely come to be a yearly delivering of beautifully terrifying books. STORY: ***** ART: ***** COLORS: ***** LETTERS: *****