Written by James Tynion IV
Illustrated by Michael Dialynas
Published by Boom! Studios
Release Date: May 7, 2014
What is this place? Earlier this year at the end of January, Boom! Studios began teasing a new series by introducing us one by one to a cast of characters that immediately caught my interest. This ensemble included a group of high school kids with nicknames like The Screw-Up, The Wallflower, The Lunatic, The Wimp, The Control Freak, and The Genius. We found out a few days later that this graphic novel was entitled “The Woods” and was from writer James Tynion IV (Batman Eternal) which immediately captured the attention of the comic book world. Finally this week sees the much-anticipated release of its first issue, and I had the fortunate opportunity to read an advance copy.
Our story begins in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at Bay Point Preparatory High School, where we see a group of typical adolescents dealing with seemingly normal everyday teenage issues. Some have concerns about college, parents, and their future in general. Others are just trying to get through high school and seem to be masking their fears and insecurities in front of their peers so that they may fit in. All in all just your average day in the life at your friendly neighborhood prep school, that is until an event occurs that will forever change the lives of the 513 students and faculty of this learning academy.
The students quickly realize that something catastrophic and perhaps supernatural has occurred as they go from attending classes in the middle of the day to suddenly seconds later surrounded by darkness in unfamiliar territory. What can only be described as an explosive flash of white mysteriously transports the school to a dark forest like region on an alien planet or moon. They face an immediate threat when they encounter the first inhabitants of this strange new world that appear to be predatory by nature. This young group of kids must quickly come together and make some difficult decisions as they find themselves in a fight for survival.
Collaborating with Tynion is Michael Dialynas whose artwork in this debut issue is out of this world. Dialynas brilliantly displays his range as he starts off with simple illustrations at the start and then shows us a dark and frightening depiction of this strange new wilderness, taking us along with the school on this terrifying journey. The vivid details on his alien species are particularly astonishing. Of course the script by James Tynion IV is flawless and his choice of setting and characters was pure genius. We are all too familiar with comic books that take place on an alien world full of danger and suspense, but taking this idea and placing a high school on top of this gives it a more dramatic effect and makes “The Woods” imaginative and daring. It doesn’t hurt either that the characters we meet in this first issue are incredibly engaging, each with their own personal story and distinct disposition that makes this book that much more enjoyable. So, what is this place? We are not entirely certain as of yet, but so far it is a daunting adventure in a massive world full of action and danger that is extremely appealing and absolutely gripping.
Overall Rating: 9 out of 10