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Severed (Image Comics, 2011; #1-7)

Severed.jpg

One day in 1916, a young boy named Jack runs away from home to meet his biological father. He falls for the romance of traveling like his musician father and rides the rails to Chicago.  He’s far out of his element, and his naiveté makes him an easy target for predators.  And one of those predators is a con-man cannibal with razor-sharp teeth.

Snyder and Tuft waste no time showing the cost of Jack’s mistakes:  in the book’s 1950s present, we see him as an older man, missing an arm—only to cut back to 1916 to see the boy Jack playing his violin.  There’s no chance of a happy ending, only inevitable loss.  That makes the narrowing distance between him and his aggressor hang over everything Jack does.  Every mistake he makes and victory he enjoys moves him closer to his fate.  This is the source of the book’s horror: loss of self, loss of body, and loss of innocence are a fact of life, and its writers leave no room to anticipate otherwise.

Futaki, Nelson, and Guilhaumond’s art is painterly, shifting from misleading in its beauty to grim, brutal, and bloody at the drop of a hat.  In lighter moments, the world is warm, clean, and inviting; Guilhaumond’s colors around issues four and five—when everything looks to be on the upswing for Jack—are delicate and fragile, ready to break at any moment.  It’s a beautiful book, especially for one so grim.

If you’re into slow, inevitable, suspenseful horror, then you should check out Severed.  It’s a tight, seven-issue mini-series that knows how to use readers’ expectations against them.  

Collected in

  • Severed (#1-7)

Credits

Writers: Scott Snyder, Scott Tuft | Artist: Attila Futaki | Colorist: Greg Guilhaumond (4-7) | Additional Inks: Bill Nelson | Letterer/Designer: Fonografiks

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