cover image North 40

North 40

Aaron Williams and Fiona Staples, DC/Wildstorm, $17.99 (144p) ISBN 978-1-4012-2849-1

There is a school of thought that argues that if you put two sets of clichés together, you can get something fun out of it. In the case of this graphic novel, one set belongs to "everybody's turning into Lovecraftian monsters" horror stories, and the other set belongs to "hayseeds are wacky" comedy; putting them together yields a story about a plague of hideous transformations that hits backwoodsy Conover County until a scrappy, skinny blond fellow and an irritable young woman with a big scythe dispatch it. Unfortunately, Williams' story is top-heavy with overwrought narration ("If'n a clan can be said t' be tied to a patch of ground, the Atterhulls' patch is th' one with double-wides an' beer cans") and far too many characters, and never quite finds its plot, pace or tone—is it Grand Guignol horror about the county's sins finding it out? Ghostbusters-style comedy about reluctant champions beating back the supernatural? An adventure story about a by-the-book heroic journey? Fortunately, Staples' artwork is consistently eye-catching; she steps up to the plate with some effectively grotesque zombies and tentacle-beasts, and keeps the story moving even when it doesn't make much sense. (Nov.)