Review: Night of the Ghoul #3
There’s a surprising amount of information already revealed on the central mystery playing out in Scott Snyder and Francesco Francavilla’s Night of the Ghoul. It’s quite refreshing actually, getting a steadier stream of key details on the events surrounding the search for a lost film that might hold the secret to destroying an ancient monster. Of course, this is all owed to a smartly paced script and an art style that makes each panel consistently ramp up the horror and the tension that follows the father and son team at the center of it all.
Night of the Ghoul #3 starts to pull the veil back on the Ghoul’s methods and how long it’s managed to be a hidden but powerful presence in the world. We learn more about the people running the facility where the lost movie’s director lies disfigured and forgotten and we get a better understanding of what the Ghoul might actually be, especially in terms of how it keeps surviving throughout history.
In my review of NotG issue #2, I compared the story to old Hollywood horror classics in both tone and how it develops its ambiance. This issue finds another connection with those movies in terms of pacing. The horror of old didn’t wrap its secrets and mysteries up in a puzzle box-like story structure with twist after twist leading up to a big reveal. They found they could be scarier by leaning into the source of the horror and not by keeping it all hidden. Night of the Ghoul takes to this approach and it pays off in issue #3.
This isn’t to say that everything’s laid out already and that the comic is just people dealing with how terrifying the monsters are. Snyder’s script has been careful not to show its hand entirely, but it’s also generous with the things it shows. It gives readers a lot to chew on with guarantee of more to come.
Francavilla takes every opportunity afforded by the script to create pages full of images that, individually, could serve as cover illustrations themselves not unlike those seen in classic EC Comics. Some of the full-page spreads in this issue stand among some of his finest work and showcase his complete mastery of the language of visual horror.
The black and white movie segments continue to serve as the story’s vault of secrets, but what’s interesting about it is that it’s coming across like a legitimate second story in its own right, with plot and characters to spare. They’re even becoming lengthier every issue, so they there’s room to push the Ghoul’s lore even further and to explore other dark corners that typically get stuck on the cutting room floor in this type of story.
Night of the Ghoul #3 isn’t afraid to dump scary things on readers laps and then leaving it up to them to process it. Its horrors are out in the open, so we’re left to contend with how terrifying things are and how terrifying they can get. In a time where puzzle box mysteries dominate the playing field, Snyder and Francavilla are setting up their own rules and making people engage with the story on their terms. Thankfully, those terms are yielding results, paving the way for more scary things to be gleefully afraid of as they make themselves known.
Story: Scott Snyder, Art: Francesco Francavilla
Art: 9.0 Story: 9.0 Overall: 9.0
Recommendation: Buy and then dust off your old school horror boxed sets for a binge.