Right from the very first panel, I'm reminded just how much credit artist Kyle Strahm and colorist Felipe Sobreiro deserve for making this book impactful. Sure, writer Justin Jordan deserves every bit as much credit for the way he paces this gruesome adventure and how he handles the protagonists, but that opening panel gives you a whole new look at just how twisted and frightening this world can be. We've seen all different kinds of monsters; we've seen just how messed up humanity can be; we've most definitely seen quite a few humans get ripped apart and consumed by the Spread. But what would it be like to be a human facing down one of these seemingly surreal and horrific creatures? What's the last thing you would see before everything goes red and fades away? The opening page immediately answers that question for you. From the sharp and jagged teeth to the bleak thought of traveling farther and farther into this giant monster's digestive system, this panel just grabs your attention. It's a disturbing and thoroughly effective way of welcoming us back into the world of SPREAD. Obviously, there's a lot of visuals to praise beyond just the first page. This one is loaded with violent action and the handling of the Preacher is every bit as creepy as it should be (especially towards the end). It's an ugly world, but thanks to Strahm and Sobreiro, I just can't stop staring at it.
Jordan fills this issue with a whole lot of crazy, brutal mayhem. From Spread being sliced apart to slugged in the face, this issue rarely slows down. If something isn't getting stabbed, crushed, or punched, odds are they're about to be or it means you've reached the final two pages. As always, I enjoy Jordan's blunt dialogue. There's no infodumps or jarring displays of exposition, just frustrated and/or frightened people thrown into crazy situations and being totally unfiltered about just how messed up everything has become. They're vulgar, natural reactions to this kind of situation. Fat Jack's become a standout character. I won't spoil whether he lives, but Jordan's made the guy pretty awesome -- he's a nice mix of totally abrasive yet still lovable -- and I really enjoyed his role in this story.
While this technically is the end of the first story, it does way more to sell you on what the next story will be about instead of leaving you thinking about how some things just went down. The writer takes more than a couple steps to make sure we're very, very interested in seeing what'll happen in issue #7. It was a thrilling ride, but I'm left feeling far more interested in what's to come.
I understand a fair amount of this issue focuses on setting the stage for the next storyline, but it didn't feel like a very satisfying conclusion for the first story. It's graphic and fun, but after all of the buildup with the Preacher, I was hoping it would boil down to more than just slashing, stabbing and general chaos. That's good fun and the giant Spreadworm is amusing, but we've seen plenty of madness before, so a little more emotion and compelling material could have helped. For example, I don't feel any tension when Hope's life is in danger since we know she makes it out of the experience alive. Still, there's plenty of interesting teasers for what's next, so at least it has me remaining very optimistic about this title's future. Also, I was left wondering why the Spread didn't kill Molly right away and they instead chose to restrain her. How did keeping her alive benefit them at that point? Maybe they wanted to "convert" her? Am I forgetting something here? Lastly, the resolution with Ravello (for now!) felt pretty abrupt and a little too easy when we consider just how swift that guy has been. Chalk it up to arrogance, I guess?
SPREAD continues to give us more bloody and oh-so-fun craziness and horror. The art team unleashes so many twisted and savage yet entertaining pages and Jordan makes sure the intensity never slows down. If you haven't checked this out yet but you love stories like John Carpenter's The Thing or The Last of Us, I strongly encourage you to pick up the first trade when it goes on sale. This first arc may not deliver any especially emotional or compelling moments, but it does an amazing job pulling you into this post-apocalyptic world and hits you with a non-stop flow of excitement and great-looking horror. Do yourself a favor and let SPREAD slither its way into your life. Okay, that was kind of lame, but I do mean it. Horror fans really need to give it an honest shot.