The latest two issues of School of the Damned from Vital Publishing brings a two-part story to a conclusion and kick starts a new tale in their flagship horror release.
#8 – Writer/letterer: John Farman, Artist: Will Pickering
After things all took a turn for the worse in the previous issue, the full extent of the fall out and challenge of the impending attack begins to unfold in this eight issue. The group of survivors are firmly trapped in their boarded up refuge but with plans hatching they know that facing off against the evil outside is a forgone conclusion. As the battle erupts the threads of the plan are held taught but with the risks growing we see some casualties picked up along the way before the next wave hits.
John manages to keep the momentum going from that previous issue and with the different personalities of each character trying to contribute to the plan, there’s a fine balance to the whole group. The attacks and casualties are swept up in the final battles and teaming-up with Will on art has helped keep those Hammer Horror vibes firmly intact. The beginning of the book maybe lacks the same level of background detail that we saw in that previous issue but when things kick off there’s a definite increase in what’s poured onto those pages. John’s lettering polishes off the creative elements in this issue and it’s a suitably compelling end to the arc with just enough left in the balance to offer the hope of more from this same combination of characters & creators.
#9 – Writer/letterer: John Farman, Artist: Cristian Sbattentini
The latest issue starts a new arc and brings back some familiar faces in a monster filled family but here they are dealing with a sense of loss at a funeral of one of their own. The turmoil among them gives the characters a glimmer of humanity which is in contrast with them having been largely portrayed as focused solely on their own evil plans. The subtle layers between them all and the varied plot threads makes for an interesting change of pace & direction in the School of the Damned series but John has always had the ability to surprise.
The pacing feels a bit slower than in previous issues but given the subject matter and a slight change in tone it’s no real surprise but John still knows how to keep things interesting. The step away from a Hammer Horror vibe to something darker is a key part in changing that ton and with artist Cristian Sbattentini on board the regular black & white art feels darker somehow. Moving the focus onto the so-called monsters feeds off that change and the mix of poignant interactions between them and the ultimate reluctance to accept death as the be all & end all leaves this issue poised to lead into the next perfectly.
They’ve also made these two issues and ALL their other titles available digitally for free during the lockdown so you can pick up their back catalogue at the link below: