Just in time for the upcoming sequel, the horror video game The Evil Within is getting a comic mini-series to bridge the gap between them. Is the first issue any good? Let’s find out.
Written by Ryan O’Sullivan
Illustrated by Szymon Kudranski & Damien Worm
Additional Colors by Guy Major
Lettered by Simon Bowland
Coinciding with the release of the new game, get ready for the hotly anticipated comics sequel to Tango Gameworks’ blood-curdling survival horror series. Still shell-shocked by the horrific events that took place at the Beacon Mental Hospital, Detective Sebastian Castellanos finds himself investigating a gruesome murder in Krimson City that might be his key to understanding what happened in his terrifying encounter at Beacon. From the mind of Shinji Mikami – creator of the seminal Resident Evil series – The Evil Within represents the pinnacle of survival-horror gaming with its mind-bending environments, intricate story lines and blood-curdling scares
The Evil Within is a horror video game from the mad mind of Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil). It told the tale of Detective Sebastian Castellanos investigating the gruesome murders at Beacon Mental Hospital, with the narrative taking more and more psychological twists as it continued. Or at least would have if I didn’t find the gameplay to be a bit lacking and never finishing it. Still, a story taking place in a world created by one of the maestros of survival horror? Perhaps there is something within its confines to look at.
First of all: #2.1?! In the year of our absentee Lord two-thousand and seventeen, I thought we would have been done with this. Marvel seemed to wean out of it and after DC decided to go on a bender with the concept with Villain’s Month, we hopefully would have seen the last of people trying to make an already confusing and archaic listing system even more confusing. Just a bad, bad idea all around, Titan Comics.
Our story begins after the events of the game with Sebastian back on his beat, still trying to deal with the mind-bending events that had occurred to him. “Try” being the emphasized word here. On top of the traumatic events at Beacon, his attempts at recuperating, his trouble with his wife Myra and missing daughter Lilly and his profession are all serving as more and more weight on a troubled mind. On top of that, a new case is brought to him and his partner, Tobias: a double homicide with the killer taking inspiration from nursery rhymes, the one in particular being “Jack & Jill” (not the movie, obviously. We’re dealing with one horror franchise). As the issue ends, it is becoming more apparent that this killer ties in to Seb’s time at Beacon, finding a symbol at the crime scenes like one he saw at the mental hospital and continuing flashes of events he sees.
Do you know what I came to realize, by the end of this issue? The Evil Within, both as a video game franchise and this comic issue, is incredibly silly. Not in a “Ha Ha Ha!” sort of way (albeit one could find some kind of dark humor in just how much misery is being piled on to Sebastian’s life), but in how tropey it is. I do see how something like this spawned from the mind of the man who brought of Resident Evil, itself being chock full of old horror tropes, but more so along the zombie/science horror side of the spectrum as opposed to the pseudo-supernatural here. We have the homicide detective, nearly burnt out. He is having marriage troubles, stemming from a missing daughter. Then we go into the psychotic serial killer, plus the angle of a mental hospital that the game had brought in. These are tried and true tropes of the psychological thriller genre. The question is though: does writer Ryan O’Sullivan play with them to keep them fresh? Honestly, not really. Perhaps it is limitations imposed on the publisher in what stories could be told, but it’s all played very po-faced with little charm to it.
The biggest strength to the issue is the artwork. Both Szymon Kudranski and Damien Worm bring great images and us the shifting narrative to play at different types of horror. Kudranski’s work is very much grounded in the real world; more noir, playing the shadows to create a sense of dread and misery. His character work is also real good too. They remind me of a little more cartoonish style of a Sean Phillips. It hits that same vibe and the very last scene is very gorery and does hit the same realistic sense that wouldn’t be out of place from something like “The Fade Out” or “Fatale”.Continued below
On the other hand, when we shift over into Sebastian’s dreams, Damien Worm takes to reigns. His ethereal, jagged images combined with a coloring that is at times subtle as it is nauseating, and I mean that in a good way. A standout scene being Sebastian’s viewing of the “Jill” murder scene and the crimson and brown coloring filtering over the scenery as Seb’s visions get more and more intense. Fans of Worm’s previous work in “The October Faction” with Steve Niles are in for a nice treat with his scenes here.
“The Evil Within” Number -ugh- #2.1 is probably not going to garner any new fans for the franchise with this lead up to the sequel. Story-wise, it feels a bit flat. All the elements of a psychological horror are there, but they need a bit more something to keep it fresh. The art, however, is the main draw here. Both artists bring their own unique horror touches to the issue that lifts the rest of the issue from average to above average. If anything, for you video game fans, this is a comic to hold you over until the sequel launches.
Final Verdict: 6.0 – Good art from both artists makes up for a kind of stereotypical psychological thriller.