Review by C.J. Bunce
Rachel Rising disturbs me. Terry Moore’s art disturbs me. Most of all, Terry Moore’s story disturbs me.
The thing is… it’s supposed to.
Everyone is creepy in the quaint, pastoral town called Manson. If you need help in Manson, you pretty much have no one to turn to. Soon you will be dead or undead, or living or working with some unspeakable horror in your midst. Remember young Billy Mumy’s character in the Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life”? I’m convinced he lived in Manson. And the neighbor across the street? An adorable little girl named Zoe who has just lost her family and house. And her newly proposed foster family has a psycho in it. Of course, Zoe just killed a few people herself. Including her babysitter. You see, every time Zoe sees the beautiful blonde woman, someone dies. Sometimes by her own hand. Who is that woman, who can be seen only by a few people, and why can she push her will onto others?
But the story is not about Zoe. It’s about Rachel. In the beginning Rachel is dead, pulling herself from a shallow grave by getting a foothold on…what’s that? Someone else’s corpse. She’s been strangled. But Rachel has come back for more, despite being repeatedly knocked back down. She doesn’t understand why she’s alive any more than we do. Along this strange trip Rachel meets a woman in the bathroom at a local jazz club and can’t help but sharing that she won’t make it to her wedding day. Rachel has seen the woman’s coming death. Petrified the woman rushes away. Minutes later the woman is pushed off the roof, onto Rachel, killing both in the process.
Meanwhile Zoe and the fiancée accidentally (?!) intentionally (?!) meet up in the woods to hide their recently murdered victims. And little Zoe finishes off the fiancée. Why not? And why is she so vicious about it? It’s all bad in the quaint, pastoral town of Manson.
In the beginning, and a bit of a deja vu later, Rachel’s aunt Johnny and brunette BFF named Jet can’t believe that Rachel is dead (again). Aunt Johnny works as a mortician, and unfortunately she knows this victim all too well. But Johnny and Jet are even more surprised when she sits up alive. Rachel is more dead than alive, the doctor tells her. He also thinks Rachel is the angel of death. But he has his own issues. He is living at home with a 30-year old corpse.
It’s all so eerie, spooky and… oogy.
Later, Rachel and Johnny and Jet and Zoe’s stories intersect, and they collide with an 18-wheeler.
Then bodies inexplicably burst out of the town’s cemetery. Jet dies in the car wreck, to return and join Rachel as another member of the undead. Is she a zombie? The doctor says no. Is she an angel? Jet won’t believe it. Just prop her body up in front of a television, she’ll be all right.
Moore is at Issue #8 of the series and there is no sign of saving any of us from this town ravaged by an unknown evil. How does this mild-mannered writer of Strangers In Paradise and Echo create such a horrific tale? What unspeakable skeletons are hiding within the Moore household? I really don’t want to know.
Probably most surprising is the juxtaposition between Moore’s beautiful lead females, Rachel and Jet and Zoe, and the ghoulish, macabre, palpable darkness that seems to emanate from the crossroads in the woods. Like Frank Cho’s women and Adam Hughes’ women, you’d know Terry Moore’s women if you were pushing your way through the halls at the San Diego Convention Center at Comic-Con and ran into one. They are the ladies with the little slightly askew noses and the bright all-knowing eyes.
Beautiful fall leaves stretch across the open grave. It’s getting cold in Manson. It’s snowing, but is that really snow that’s falling? I shudder to think where this is going. I may just cover my eyes for the rest and crawl back into bed. Someone please leave the lights on.
Rachel Rising has been nominated for not one but two Harvey Awards: Best New Series and Best Continuing or Limited Series. It made the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award 2012 Reading List. And we will find out in a few weeks whether it secures the Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series and the coveted Best Writer/Artist Award to Moore for his work.
Moore is scheduled to be at Comic-Con again this year and we hear he is bringing original art for sale. He and wife Robyn’s Abstract Studios will be featured in a panel in Room 23ABC on Comic-Con Thursday. Issues #1-6 are now available at Amazon as the Rachel Rising: The Shadow of Death trade paperback and more recent issues are available at comic book stores everywhere.