- Steve Niles
- Damien Worm
- Taylor Esposito
- Cover Artist:
- Damien Worm
- IDW Publishing
- Release Date:
- Damien Worm
IDW Publishing presents an all-new horror series in Brynmore #1, a supernatural thriller that centers around a small island community and an old family curse. Brynmore #1 is created by the same team behind The October Faction, writer/illustrator duo Steve Niles and Damien Worm, with art assistance by Alyzia Zherno and letters by Taylor Esposito.
Brynmore #1 begins the story of Mark Turner, once businessowner and family man, now recovering addict looking for a new start. Returning to his home of Turner Island, Mark buys a fixer-upper home project and accidentally befriends a local dog and meets his neighbor while dealing with his sullied family reputation on the island that bears his name. In the final pages, Mark discovers a hidden passageway that leads to a mysterious door, that may help to untangle the secrets of Turner Island and his family's rumored ancestral curse.
Brynmore #1 struggles a little from a writing perspective, Niles packing in a huge amount of exposition into the first issue, but not quite managing to make it feel satisfying. The most compelling and engaging part of the comic arrives in the final page, acting as a great cliffhanger but simultaneously generating some frustration that so much of the intrigue arrives and departs so abruptly. All the meat of Brynmore #1 is driven by characters and exposition, neither of which feel notably unique or engrossing. The background characters in particular are all quite flimsy and unmemorable, composed of basic archetypes that feel very mechanical in how they relay information or reflect different facets of Mark's personality. Mark himself falls immediately and deliberately into the Everyman category, but fails to challenge that paradigm in an interesting way, making it feel less deconstructive and more like taking storytelling shortcuts that aren't subsequently capitalized on. That being said, the practical fallout depicted of Mark being estranged from his teenage daughter and being a recovering alcoholic are genuinely raw and powerful, painting a portrait of a flawed character through implicative and robust writing.
The art of Brynmore #1 is the stand-out element of the book, Worm providing rich and vibrant illustration composed of full-bodied lines and overflowing with small details. The style varies quite a lot, with an almost photorealistic style to the backgrounds that are gorgeously atmospheric, setting the scene of Turner Island perfectly. The character designs have a slightly blockier feel to them, the figures and expressions oscillating between feeling very strong and strident, and moments of feeling a touch plastic and emotionless. The limited action sequences lack a sense of dynamism, making them fall a little flat.
Worm's colors in Brynmore #1 have a dense immediacy to them, channeling warm or cool temperatures with a wonderful sense of vivacity. Running the full gambit from balmy to chilling, the colors are deeply atmospheric and do great work to set the tone for each individual scene. Esposito's letters and sound effects are clear and solid throughout, staying within mainstream aesthetic constraints in their font and weight. The extremely limited use of emboldening and italicization is refreshing, but also means that dialogue fall a little flat at times.
As a debut, Brynmore #1 doesn't pack quite as much impact as it wants to in its writing, but is carried by its terrific art. In failing to address any of its horror elements in this exposition-laden first issue, Brynmore #1 doesn't give much of a taste of the series to come, but also struggles to make its world and character building particularly engaging. The upside of this is that the next issue is poised to immediately start on the meat of the narrative, picking up from the intriguing cliffhanger Brynmore #1 ends on.