Scarenthood #1 Review: A Strange New Horror Comic
Scarenthood is the new horror series from Nick Roche, who writes and draws, colorist Chris O'Halloran, and letterer Shawn Lee. Let's see what this new punny series from IDW is about.
Scarenthood #1 is a strange one. It follows Cormac, a man who begins to get to know the parents of the kids that his daughter goes to school with. This comic takes place in Ireland, so perhaps this is a thing there, but the idea of a group of parents that meets and hangs out in the school waiting to pick up their kids seems foreign to me — but again, that could absolutely be a thing. It took a while to understand what was going on and the purpose of this gathering. The characters, especially the conspiracy theorist Flynno, are well-defined, but there is a bit of a likability problem here with everyone except him. Cormac inserts himself in other peoples' conversations with rude one-liners as what seems to be a personal hobby. There's even one scene where he leaves for work and then, unexplained, returns a few panels later to hang out and passively-aggressively insult his new friends a bit more. It's not just Cormac, though. The plot gets going after Flynno tells a story about how his brother disappeared after exploring the area under the school's stage as a kid. To prove a point (that Flynno is full of shit and Cormac is such a smart guy, pretty much), the unlikable protagonist ventures under the stage. When he emerges after mere moments, he has lost hours. His new friends? They assume he's lying, for some reason, even though they were there. Did they not take a few steps in after him to check? At what point did they just leave? It's a strange sequence overall that seems poorly plotted and makes the characters all seem like jerks.
There's also a lot of long, drawn-out, inconsequential dialogue that could have been dramatically cut down. For example, there's a scene when Cormac, after seeing something horrifying, is locked outside his place and needs his kid to help him get back in the house. The point of this page is for Cormac's daughter to see him frightened… but fourteen dialogue bubbles are spent on Cormac trying to convince her to let him in. If this were a huge plot point, great, but it, and many other scenes like this, read like narrative fat that should have been trimmed from the script before it was drawn.
Roche also draws, and he's a terrific artist whose style is expressive. In such a bright book, with light and playful, almost all-age-style colors by O'Halloran, the moments where we see truly horrific imagery are startling. It's a strange juxtaposition because the horror feels out of place in the comic, which makes for an effective scare, but it also creates for an inconsistent tone to the story.
Scarenthood isn't a bad comic, but it is one that seems uncertain of what it wants to be. It handles horror better than the dramatic parts of the story, and that may or may not be enough to keep readers coming back for a second helping.
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