Basket Full of Heads #1 Review (Spoilers) - I Don't Want These People to Die...
• DC Comics - Hill House Comics (Publisher)
For transparency, I tend to write a rough draft of my reviews in a notebook before uploading it to the site. I've written this full review twice and misplaced it. Not sure what the issue is but I lost both copies of the written reviews for this book so I'm going off of memory.
This series is going to be decompressed. If that bothers you I think you may want to pick up the title in trade. The comic isn't bad but most of the story elements do not come into focus in this installment. There is definitely a basket full of heads shown in this issue but it pops up on the first page or two before time jumping back to the '80s.
Basket Full of Heads #1 was the first title released under Joe Hill's Hillhouse imprint at DC Comics. The issue isn't particularly scary or creepy. This may be a negative depending on what you're reading the series for, or how you're consuming the material.
As I write this review most of the first wave series are almost over. I predict that even if the Hill House comics aren't flying off the shelves of the local comic shops, the series will do well in trade format. I've reviewed The Dollhouse Family #1 and Daphne Byrne #1 and they all seem to be telling complete stories. This is great in the long run because you'll get an entire story in a single volume. I still would have preferred that the titles be released as graphic novels.
What the book has going for it is really strong dialogue and characterization. I was drawn to all of the named characters. Once the horror elements ramp up the time spent developing these characters will pay off in the end.
The story presented is interesting and is driven by the characterization. The supernatural elements are there but firmly in the background. Liam is interning as a deputy for the Brody Island Police Department. June is a Psych major planning on going into social work after graduation. The bulk of the book takes place at the end of Summer (1983). Liam and June have a burgeoning relationship and with Summer being almost over they are planning their next steps in life as well as their relationship.
Their planning is interrupted when Liam stops to investigate a prison break. The Chief tells Liam that he has the situation under control. He wants the kids to head to his wife's home for dinner and for protection while he tracks the escapees.
As time passes and the prisoners aren't caught. Additional bodies are found and the situation comes to the head as the escapee's break into the home.
Basket Full of Head's #1 reads like an adaptation of a television series or film and I mean that as a compliment. We get a lot of comics that feel like bait for a streaming series or film but in this case, the characters are endearing and I can see myself being stressed as they are put through their paces. Joe has a great voice for everyone even the supporting cast.
Leomac's pencils offer a cinematic vibe to the issue. I didn't know that Joe Hill was Stephen King's son until recently and looking back at the issue there are a ton of callbacks to King's stories, including staples like the reoccurring Maine setting. Shawshank Penitentiary pops up. I'm also pretty sure Ned Beatty makes a cameo in this issue.
Although the issue is light on actual horror it lays the groundwork for potential greatness. Strong characters and great art go a long way here. The story isn't as atmospheric or as creepy as the first issues of Daphne Byrne or The Dollhouse Family but I believe that Basket Full of Head's is the best of the initial Hill House offerings I've reviewed to date.
**Bonus** I have no mouth and I must scream PC Longplay