Comics Review: DARK RIDE

A devilish version of Disneyland

DARK RIDE #1 by Joshua Williamson and Andrei Bressan (Image, October 2022) The setting is very appealing – – a haunted amusement park. But that’s not all. Devil Land is a horror-themed amusement park, the creative outlet for the weird imagination of Arthur Dante (a very appropriate last name). In the black-and-white flashback scene that opens the story Dante has just murdered and buried his first wife (the biggest objector to his dream of a scary theme park) and then makes a deal with you-can-guess-who. 
In the present day, Devil Land is now a world-famous park but with worried investors noting a decline in attendance/interest and beseeching the now much older and reclusive Arthur Dante to create a new ride/attraction. Owen is an enthusiastic new employee who has an extremely rough first day. 

  Arthur’s son, Samhain, is determined to enhance his father’s legacy and come up with something new to sell more tickets. When his famous Hollywood sister Halloween shows up he resents the intrusion and views her as a competitor. The drama ramps up as it’s “trainwreck” versus “sell-out” as they hurl insults at each other. 

   What takes this book to another level is the amount of story detail related to the park, including some wild stories that employees share about the park’s visitors and antics. Williamson has really thought out how he wants this park to appear. It’s very elaborate, a demonic version of Disneyland. There’s even a detailed map of Devil Land in the back of the book, complete with crazy rides and attractions like Terror Twist, Catacombs Crash, Devil’s Due, Monster Maze, Tunnel of Lovecraft, Cannibal Cafe and Werewolf Woods. 

   The art by Bressan is up to challenge of depicting this with incredible detail and lots of Easter eggs for horror aficionados to spot (as well as the spoken references to genre faves). This is a book to read once to take it all in, read twice to dwell on the art, and then give a third time for charm. FOUR STARS.

DARK RIDE #2 by Joshua Williamson and Andrei Bressan (Image, November 2022) Issue #1 was a great introduction to Williamson’s horrific version of Disneyland. So, how much darker can this get? Plenty, if Issue #2 is any indicator. Fans of inventive horror comics will want to jump on for a ride on this roller-coaster of thrills. I, for one, would love to travel on the Necronomi-Coaster!

   Samhain Dante, son of the park creator, wants to develop an adult animated series starring Dan D. Evil, one of the grim park mascots but can’t find a producer willing to greenlight it. Meanwhile his competitive sister Halloween has a disturbing dream that gives her an idea for a new attraction. Add sibling rivalries and daddy issues into the mix. 

   Meanwhile the merchandising that produces stuffed animal versions of Dan D. Evil results in very young children being persuaded by their new toys to commit some gruesome acts.
New character Summer takes a janitorial job at Devil Land so she can find out what happened to her baby brother Owen (from Issue #1) who disappeared after one day on the job. 

   The art of Bressan is really helping to sell the concept, from lurid details and intricate backgrounds to facial expressions and body language of the characters. Well done. FOUR STARS.

About Author /

Born in the 50's; developed in the '60s. An eternal child with the training wheels still on. Love all things pop culture: books, comics, film, tv, music, horror, crime, fantasy, science fiction.

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