'A consistently high quality mix of action, story, drama and horror welded together with an oppressive atmosphere of persistent dread.'


Author John Farman

Artist John Howard

Cover colourist David Newbigging

Published by Vital Publishing

Review by Andrew Marshall

The Force Majeure storyline comes to a conclusion with as much violence, brutality and holy-shit-did-that-just-happen moments as have been seen in the entire series so far. Decapitations, mass immolation, face ripping, chest exploding, and slightly more eyeball gouging than you might feel comfortable experiencing in a single sitting, now that the final face offs are underway there is absolutely no pulling of punches. Or stabbings, or shootings, or… you get the idea.

Much of the focus is on two characters who so far have been mostly secondary, important to the story but hanging back in supporting roles. Demon boy Moloch has spent much of the series as a simmering ball of unfocused malevolence, an overcharged battery of vitriol now finally allowed to explode like a lifelong Star Wars fan faced with a profession of love for Jar Jar Binks. While clearly a supremely powerful entity, through his callous malevolence he also acts like the child he looks to be, as though those who temporarily hold him captive are tedious adults he can’t be bothered paying attention to, early on proclaiming “I thought your monologue might sound less boring from this angle” as he floats upside down in the air with arms spread in an inverted crucifix.

Back at the school, the issue’s second starring role goes to Frankenstein’s daughter Jenny, who is afforded a glorious opportunity to break out her inner badass, a state that was briefly hinted at in the first issue but has remained dormant until now. In matters of the heart she may be a timid and insecure girl, but in matters of extracting brutal vengeance she is an unstoppable undead killing machine driven by seething hatred and unforgiving wrath.

The stark monochrome of the artwork augments the impact of the gore’s regularity, barely a page going by without thick mists of blackened blood spraying from ruptured arteries as the relentless and sadistically satisfying carnage draws the story to a close. As well as ending this arc on a definitive and viciously histrionic note (“What aspect of inconspicuous did you fail to grasp?”), things are neatly set up to develop the series further, with the introduction of a mysterious (aren’t they all?) new vampire, a couple of creepy GothLolis with apparent ties to Moloch’s vaguely intimated past, and a baby Creature From the Black Lagoon.

Overall, this first School of the Damned story arc has been a consistently high quality mix of action, story, drama and horror welded together with an oppressive atmosphere of persistent dread, feeling at once as classic as the monsters that star in it and as modern as the medium in which it’s written. Whatever is about to come next, it’ll be well worth watching out for.