As I browsed the new releases this past Wednesday, I came upon The Woods from BOOM Studios!, created and written by James Tynion IV, with art by Michael Dialynas and colors by Josan Gonzalez, and couldn't believe that I had neglected to pick it up. I was immediately enticed by the art style illustrated on the cover, and was relieved to find that the series was only nine issues in. So I did what any good comic book junkie would do: I bought them all, sat down, and binge-read. Over the course of my part one catch up review, I will talk about issues #1-4 which you can now buy in a trade paperback entitled, The Woods, Vol. 1: The Arrow.
For those of you who don't know, The Woods is about a high school that disappears from Milwaukee, WI and ends up light years away. 513 people (a mixture of students and faculty) find themselves in the middle of an ancient, primordial wilderness, with countless amounts of questions to be answered. The great thing about this comic is when you're first introduced to the characters you get to see them in their everyday mindset talking about normal things. One minute everything is floating along in a normal fashion, and in an instant all of that changes. It left me feeling shocked, excited, and eager to keep reading. That instance alone is very reminiscent of ABC's Lost. An explosive beginning that takes a group of people and throws them into an unknown place.
The story centers on a group of brave and courageous students: some of which band together and venture into the woods, while others stay behind at the school. Because there are so many characters, I'll do a bit of an initial character breakdown for you:
After all hell breaks loose, a group of students head into the woods under the leadership of quirky genius Adrian Roth, who claims he knows what to do when he encounters the peculiar glowing stone. Karen Jacobs, Calder Macready, Isaac Andrews, and Benjamin Stone join him initially, and are later joined by Sanami Ota.
Back at the school, student council president, Maria Ramirez is at war with Principal John Beaumont and the rest of the faculty. I know that's a lot of names to digest! I kept a list at first when I read. Anyway, the faculty wants to take a willy nilly, let's just sit back and wait for someone to rescue us, but that's not okay with Maria. She wants to take the necessary preparations to make sure everyone is going to have enough food, water, etc. Well that doesn't go down well, and she is kind of thrown into a jail of sorts in one of the locker rooms.
For me personally, I not only find the characters venturing in the woods more intriguing, but the events that go down out there are insanely captivating. I suppose that would only make sense since the series is called, The Woods. While I understand that we can't just abandon the school because that's where the majority of the people are, I found myself in a "come on already…back to The Woods," state of mind whenever those scenes came up. The realistic detail of Dialynas' art is a wonderful thing to gaze at. He melds the drawings of our normal cast of characters with the supernatural creatures in a flawless way. Things like, crazy alien bug bites growing into an enormous disgusting sore and exploding, releasing tons more bugs, is something you can look forward to when reading, and it's also brilliantly illustrated.
This is undoubtedly a very plot-driven story, but the characters really do make it special. Each one of them has a unique set of qualities that bring a lot of different perspectives to the table, but at the same time there is a good balance in personality types. For example, Calder provides some comic relief throughout the plot, while Benjamin is the more silent helpful character. One of my favorite parts of the story is when Isaac meets a monkey-like creature, who he calls Dr. Robot. This strange looking (kind of cute) animal tags along with the group and becomes a key part in assisting them throughout their travels.
Once you pick up The Woods, you won't be able to put it down. Issues #1-4 are a solid, epic beginning to the series, which is why BOOM Studios, compiled them in a volume. Check that out here if you haven't had a chance to read the series. You don't want to miss the cliffhanger ending, when the group discovers that might be more than evil alien bugs lurking behind the trees.
Christine Marie is a Staff Writer at Bleeding Cool, and bibliomaniac with a love for all things creative. She hopes to one day be a Superhero/Disney Princess/Novelist. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @AWritersWay or on her blog writerchristinemarie.wordpress.com.