Hotell #4: AWA's First Anthology Horror Series Reaches its Conclusion

Of all the AWA books, Hotell was one of the most unexpected. A horror anthology centered around one location, a motel off the beaten track of the highway where people in trouble come to stay.

Hotell #4: AWA's First Anthology Horror Series Reaches its Conclusion
Art from "Hotell" #4, AWA Studios

Writer John Lees and artist Dalibor Talajic lay out each issue as part of a tradition of horror comics that go back to the EC Comics of the 1950s. There's a framing device, a narrator in the form of the suspiciously friendly motel manager who talks directly to the reader about how these are morality tales and the dangers of staying at the motel. He's part of that anthology tradition of Rod Serling introducing The Twilight Zone or the punning Crypt Keeper from Tales of the Crypt. He tells you that people come to the motel to have their long, dark night of the soul, after which they either leave or they don't.

Hotell #4: AWA's First Anthology Horror Series Reaches its Conclusion
Art from "Hotell" #4, AWA Studios

Each issue of Hotell features a one-off story about a guest and their story. They have brief interactions with the other guests whose stories are told in the next issues, so all four issues take place during the same period of a few days. The first issue featured a pregnant woman on the run from her abusive husband whose dreams of nursing a demon baby at the hotel turn out to be more than dreams. The second issue featured a couple checking in for a romantic weekend but turns out to be a ruse for the husband to murder his wife, but it doesn't really work out the way he wants. The third issue featured a reporter searching for the truth of her sister's death at the hands of a serial killer. The fourth and (for now) final issue of Hotell is where it all comes together.

Hotell #4: AWA's First Anthology Horror Series Reaches its Conclusion
Art from "Hotell" #4, AWA Studios

A man brings his teenage son to the motel with a Catholic priest to perform an exorcism on the boy. As with all stories about demonic possession, it starts with the uncertainty of whether the boy is really possessed or if he's just getting tormented by a deluded father and priest. This being a 20-page horror story, that question gets answered very quickly before something much bigger happens that ties together all four issues of the series so far. The first issue ended with what looked like an apocalypse, and the final pages of the 4th issue reveals exactly what's happening. John Lees' script had been building a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces only come together when you've read all four issues.

Hotell #4: AWA's First Anthology Horror Series Reaches its Conclusion
Art from "Hotell" #4, AWA Studios

If anything, four issues feels a bit too brief, like the series is over before it's barely begun. The anthology format of a motel where people have a supernatural reckoning could go on for a bit longer. But then this might not be the end. AWA series tend to come in "seasons" rather than run as ongoing books, so there might be another "season" of Hotell in the near future.

 

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About Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist who just likes to writer. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.
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