Comics: Gravetrancers #1 and #2 - Reviewed

Gravetrancers is a strange grindhouse style horror series released by Black Mask Studios that is unique and certainly not for the faint of heart. Issue 1 introduces us to Maribel and Anthony, who are heading to the Malort Cemetery to visit their estranged father’s grave. Looking to reconnect with the past and shed old demons, it is a terrifying turn of events when they instead encounter a sick, psychotic family that run the cemetery. Led by Mrs. Malort, AKA Maam, this family has manufactured an extremely addictive drug using human remains and it is soon learned that the fresher the victim is, the stronger that the drug will become. 

Mark L. Miller (Pirouette) has crafted a true horror story inspired by real events that took place in Chicago, adding in an extra twist of macabre with the powerful new drug. Though not every one of the characters in this story are ones readers may find likable or want to root for, that seems to work well for the book, as you are left with the belief that they may not survive in the end. However, that fact is what makes for an interesting tale of horror, that sense of uncertainty that exists when you don’t know what will happen or who will live or who will die. Miller has also created a truly insane and demented family, reminiscent of the one from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, that rivals many of the clones you see thrown onto the big screen. Issue one leaves things on a sufficient cliffhanger, introducing Officer Valez into the mix and providing the reader with something to anticipate in Issue 2. 

The artwork from newcomer James Michael Whynot is simply outstanding, with very detailed and violent imagery that would likely impress Bernie Wrightson. It is a very dark style with heavy black shading, intricate lines and crosshatching. The backgrounds and environments surrounding the characters are also highly detailed and I found myself reviewing each panel looking at the various details. The characters are drawn in an unusual, slightly unrealistic fashion that only adds to the creepiness of the story and the dark individuals that inhabit it. The psychedelic drug-induced panels are particularly interesting and wildly inventive. Dee Cuniffe’s terrific selection of colors only further enhances the artwork and adds to the dread and psychedelic nature of the story. There are many minute details with the colors that might be missed on first glance, with some portions looking like watercolors were used. 

Issue 2 continues where we left off, with the situation looking fairly hopeless for our main protagonists. Officer Valez is further introduced and her character expanded upon and we delve more into the sordid lives of the Malort family and their wicked drug. The drug-induced imagery in the second issue continues to impress, being frightening and incredible to view at the same time. There is an intense action scene in this one that covers four pages and multiple panels. The Malort’s missing son Prim also appears and we learn about where he has been. 

Gravetrancers is an excellent series that most horror fans should be interested in checking out. With a wildly inventive story, terrific artwork, and superb colors, I cannot wait to see what happens in issue 3 and where the story goes from here.