Just in time for Halloween, Steve Niles and Damien Worm team up again on The October Faction. While there are definitely monsters, the series seems more about family drama and relationships. The Allan family is broken; Patriarch Fredrick has given up monster hunting for a university teaching job, his wife, Deloris is sneaking around behind his back with another man, and his children, Geoff and Vivian, are just trying to get his attention any way they can.
An old monster hunting buddy, Lucas, a man with secrets of his own, comes back into Fredrick’s life to bring him the news about his wife, and how this strange man gave her a mysterious key. They reminisce about the old days, and the, so far mysterious, Harlow incident, and Lucas can’t understand why Fredrick doesn’t look back fondly to those days as he does. Meanwhile, his children, in a bid for his attention, have captured a ghost.
Only one issue in and Niles has sold me on the story. You can tell it’s going to be an exciting tale, with plenty of mysteries to solve along the way. He sets up the premise succinctly, introducing the players and the world they inhabit in an organic way that also moves the story along. This is really a perfect first issue, setting the stage for everything to come, and dropping plenty of intriguing nuggets to ensure you pick up the next issue.
His characterizations are pitch perfect, each character having unique quirks that fit their role in the story going forward. Even if they aren’t the most likable people, they are infinitely interesting. Other than part of a conversation early in the issue that had something I couldn’t quite put my finger on that bugged me a little, the dialog is fresh and there’s never a wasted line, every word is used to move the story forward or flesh out the premise. Even with the spooky subject matter Niles manages to get a few laughs in, my favorite being the whole “selfie apocalypse” scene. The pacing is brisk, but gives the story room to breathe when needed. Even the flashback scenes are used to not only develop backstory, but also to move the story forward. Niles avoids any cliches that another weaker writer might fall into with this type of story, keeping the story grounded in real life, even if it is fantastical by its very nature.
Damien Worm’s haunting artwork is the perfect fit for Niles’ story. His work is very dark, with a creepy old photograph quality to it that just drips with the sorrow inherent in a family that is falling apart. Page after page is filled with densely detailed panels, the kind that warrant multiple reads to see everything he has to offer. I’ve gone back to it three times already to pour over every lavishly illustrated panel. His ability to use body language ever so subtly tell the story and convey mood as well as Niles’ script. I am more impressed with Worm with every new project, and he’s upped his game with The October Faction. I don’t know where Niles found him, but I am so glad he did. This is about as perfect a team as I can think of. It truly is a hauntingly beautiful first issue, and I can’t wait to see the next one.
Over all The October Faction is a pretty much perfect book so far, and I am excited it’s an ongoing, because I like the idea of having Halloween every month. If early buzz is any indication, Niles and Worm have a certified hit on their hands, and The October Faction will be around for a very long time.
The October Faction is out today from IDW.