Weird high concept? Check. Relatable characters? Check. No possible way to predict where these characters will end up (or if they'll even make it)? Let's go into THE WOODS.
Tynion shines on the page, crafting dialogue that sounds authentically young and introducing us to characters that are immediately distinctive. These are kids we went to high school with. Some of them might even be us. They're not dumbed-down or unrealistically eloquent, and their attitudes and problems feel realistic (well, until things get alien).
Michael Dialynas' character designs are just right; even as we meet students for the first time, we can tell so much about their personalities from their attire (I'm loving the geeky pop culture tshirts on several of the kids) and their body language. Karen's go-to accessory of a field hockey stick gives her confidence and power, while the panda keychain shows us a gentler side of Isaac.
And when things get weird, they get unapologetically weird. Nobody is spared (not even the sweet, scared kid), and for all the angsty charm of the preceding pages, Tynion and Dialynas don't skimp on the horror aspects of THE WOODS. There are monsters. There's blood. There's the quiet, underlying horror of a school full of children with a limited supply of food and water.
Adrian emerges as a confident leader, and I love how he's so quick to rally a team to act, but it's unclear how he's so certain about what's going on, especially the meaning of the black rock. Is he guessing? Projecting? (We'll see.)
Successfully capturing teen angst and alien horror on the page with equal precision, Tynion and Dialynas make us want to explore more of THE WOODS. The high concept is definitely strange, in a good way -- it's something we've never seen before, and it's completely unpredictable where things will go. The creepy school atmosphere of MORNING GLORIES meets the pluck of Veronica Mars, with ravenous monsters and an engaging mystery to unravel.