Writer: Ian Mondrick
Art: Benjamin AE Filby
Colors: Lesley Atlansky
Letters: Zaak Saam
Cover By: Kim Myatt
Script Editor: Danny Lore
Know what sucks? When you lose your spouse and unborn child in childbirth. Know what sucks worse? When you also work the graveyard shift in a distribution center in the middle of nowhere, and your only two subordinates are a mouth-breathing bully and a bible-thumping uber-nerd, neither of whom play well with others.
Know what sucks even worse than both of those?
The freakin’ apocalypse.
Welcome to Tomb of the White Horse, the recently-Kickstarted braintrust of Ian Mondrick and Benjamin AE Filby. It’s a standalone horror graphic which also represents the start of a four-issue series offering a modern-day interpretation of some of the not-so-hope-inspiring verses of the Book of Revelations.
In this story we meet Sam, recently widowed 40-something whose wife passed as a result of a late-life pregnancy for which he blames himself, on his first day back to work. Taking his lead are Taylor, an angry hulk of a man with a chip on his shoulder and Noah, a skinny man-mouse worried about everything except the extreme smugness he feels in having secured his heavenly afterlife-to-come. The three are tasked with inventorying the center’s warehouse in the midst of a snowstorm and failing power. Their night off to an irritable start, the mood only becomes more tense when they discover a large, unexplained package with a cryptic code taped to it.
Not to give out any spoilers, but things devolve a bit from there. Horrors unleashed, lessons learned (if a bit late). Chief among them? Don’t open boxes that aren’t yours or you might start the apocalypse (reading this, all you Amazon box-stealers out there?). Oh, and know your Bible verses.
Mondrick and Filby present us a well-nuanced tale of dread, skeleton-filled closets and good-old biblical hellfire…with promises for more to come (according to the creators, the scale and scope of ensuing stories will escalate dramatically). Mondrick works specifically to develop the personalities and drives of our three protagonists, humanizing them and giving them depth. It’s a tricky tightrope in a standalone comic, but he navigates it well. From the get-go, I had a strong sense of who each character was, even without knowing everything about them—and his tactic of revealing their inner selves via their interactions with the box’s inhabitant is well-played and effective.
Filby’s line work is spare, representing the desolation and emptiness of the setting. He plays with perspective a great deal, especially in scenes with the box, which lend an almost Hitchcock-ian unease to those panels especially. Lines themselves are typically thin and increasingly anxious, as the story develops and the characters realize how alone they really are. In scenes where the box’s inhabitant asserts itself, the lines are much more bold—dark, shadowed and often jagged; they radiate hate.
Atlansky’s colors are the perfect accompaniment; bland blues, tans and whites for much of the book, accentuating Mondrick’s tone and Filby’s lines, the vastness of the area surrounding the men…then bursts, even assaults of color—reds, oranges and yellows—when the force engages. And Saam’s letters—pleasant and standard comic-font when the men speak, haunting negative inverse when the creature does and appropriately spaced and drawn sound-effect bursts when and where they need to be—maintain the tone well.
Tomb is clearly a labor of love for Mondrick and Filby: this is the third iteration of this particular story, having previously marketed earlier versions at NY City Comicon in 2018 and C2E2 (can’t believe I missed them!) in 2019, and working it into the version we have today based on the feedback and suggestions they’d received. They’ve clearly used their time and resources well, having crafted a fine piece of supernatural horror and worthy successor to the EC Horror and Tales From the Crypt ancestry from which they drew inspiration.
If you’re interested in snagging a copy of Tomb and missed out on the Kickstarter, Ian does have a few extra copies he plans to make available via his website…once he sets it up. In the meantime, follow him on Twitter at @Ian_Face. Otherwise, watch Kickstarter mid- to late-summer next year for issue 2 (and possibly 3) in the series, which promises to be all the more world-ending and apocalyptic…
11.5 (out of 13)—great early winter (in Wisconsin, anyway!) reading.
Review by Andy Patch, thePullbox.com