DC Horror Presents: The Conjuring: The Lover
David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick & Rex Ogle, authors; Garry Brown, artist; Mike Spicer, colors
DC Comics, 2022
This story is intended to be a prequel to the 2021 film The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. I’ve seen the film, but I don’t recall any connection other than the general aspect of demonic possession, so I think this horror comic and the film can be regarded as functionally independent. Maybe I would have seen more if I experienced both stories in sequence.
The protagonist is a young woman named Jessica, just returned to her freshman year at college from winter break. She is struggling with homesickness, poor grades, and social awkwardness. Plus, she is being pursued by a boy she wishes she had not slept with, and can’t shake the feeling that she is constantly being watched. Which she is, something made clear to the reader before she is sure of it–and not only that, but it’s an evil presence.
Jessica starts to experience hallucinations, so she is clearly at least a bit out of contact with reality. The hallucinations push her to commit murder, and then the source of her guilt is revealed: she is gay, and has feelings for her childhood friend Katie. It felt anticlimactic for this to be the big reveal in the 1980s, but maybe I have just lived in liberal states. The climax is certainly as shocking and horrific as one could ask for. The art team is very good at depicting emotional states, although the illustrations are a bit minimal.
Each of the five monthly issues included extras beyond the main story: two one-page mock advertisements in the style of classic comic book ads, and a six-page “Tales from the Artifact Room,” each devoted to one of the cursed objects in the collection of the paranormal investigation couple the Warrens who star in all of The Conjuring films. These tales are like a horror anthology–with the usual hit-and-miss aspects of anthologies–but with several star comics creators. “The Ferryman” by writer Scott Snyder and artist Denys Cowan; “The Bloody Bride” by writer Che Grayson and artist Juan Ferreyra; “The Accordion Monkey” by writer Time Seeley and artist Kelley Jones; “The Sleeping Song” by writer Ray Fawkes and artist Christopher Mitten; and “The Chalice” by writer/artist
Wynd Book One: Flight of the Prince
James Tynion IV, writer; Michael Dialynas, illustrator
Boom! Box, 2021
In many ways Wynd has a conventional high fantasy setting. Pipetown is a medieval-looking city-state, ruled by a king. And of course, there is magic, although the humans in the story mostly do not consider it a good thing. They know it as a wild force that can transform anyone exposed to it in unpredictable ways, so they fear it. The city is the last empire of man in the world, and has Blood Laws prohibiting those tainted with magic from mingling with and tainting the blood of the people.
That is a problem for the title character, because Wynd is a weird blooded boy with pointed ears. So far he has been able to pass, but the king has brought magic hunter the Bandaged Man to town and things are about to get harder. A plan to get him out of town involves him in a dangerous political plot, on the run with his best friend Oakley, Prince Yorik, and the gardener’s son Thorn. In the process they learn that the magical sprytles (which appear to be wood nymphs) are actually friends, are helped by a faerie, and are told about the war with the vampyres.
The climax includes a big reveal about the Bandaged Man. And Wynd transforms himself into something more so he can help his friends and save the day. Dialynas illustrates the story in a winning, young adult-friendly style. He is especially good at facial expressions, which contribute greatly to the characterization. This isn’t really my kind of story, but I’m in for more.