Garth Ennis is, I’ll freely admit, one of my favourite writers. He doesn’t always play safe, but is always entertaining, and I was intrigued to see he’d branched out into horror again, the last time I read him doing something similar, albeit in a sci-fi setting, was “Caliban”.
“A Walk Through Hell” isn’t a nice little horror book that bangs out thrills and scares over five issues, though. This is a twelve issue series, published by Aftershock, that is, basically, dark as Satan’s arsehole. Ennis is aided by artist Goran Sudzuka, and I have to say he really does a fine job, with clear images and well designed characters. He genuinely reminds me of Ennis’ old mate Steve Dillon (still sadly missed), only not as good. This isn’t a criticism, as Dillon was a master of subtle expressions and the art of portraying everyday monsters, and Sudzuka has that creative whiff about him in his character and facial designs.
The story concerns two FBI agents, Shaw and McGregor, investigating a spate of child abductions. As they realise it may be something more horrific, their investigations take them to a warehouse that contains more horror than anyone should see in a lifetime. They literally are about to take a walk through hell (hey! I said the title!). The narrative bounces around between what’s happening now and the characters pasts, with every revelation having an impact on the story. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for Ennis to pull all this together, especially as there’s a ton of dialogue throughout, demanding that you pay attention to the story, not just the pictures.
“A Walk through Hell!” may not be for everyone. It’s a totally adult book, and is pretty dense throughout. I found myself gripped, both by the central mystery and the tight characterisation/dialogue. It is, as I said, incredibly dark, leading the reader through abominable atrocity and horror that never feels cheap, like “Crossed”, and will not raise any smiles unless you are an incredibly sick puppy. I feel Ennis fans will lap it up, and if you’re unblooded by him yet appreciate a decent horror book this is well worth your time.