With The Conjuring having its feet firmly planted in its own universe, it’s only natural comics got the opportunity to flesh out the franchise’s particular brand of terror. DC Comics has answered the call to do so with the launch of a new imprint called ‘DC Horror,’ which will premiere with a prequel comic to the latest entry in The Conjuring franchise subtitled The Devil Made Me Do It.
The series, titled The Conjuring: The Lover, will run for five issues and will set up the events that lead into The Devil Made Me Do It. It’s co-written by the film’s screenwriter David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and author Rex Ogle (Death of Wolverine: Life After Logan), with art by Garry Brown (Babyteeth) and colors by Chris Sotomayor.
The story follows Jessica, a college freshman, returning to campus after winter break, that’s dealing with the anxieties of mounting schoolwork and grades, a sexual encounter with a guy she’s now regretting, and the odd feeling she’s being watched by something.
The idea shares some elements with that of The Exorcism of Emily Rose movie, in which the titular character starts manifesting “possession” symptoms while in college, throwing every single aspect of her life into disarray. In a sense, it’s fitting that the story echoes that of the aforementioned movie given its basis on real events, something it shares with The Devil Made Me Do It.
The third entry in The Conjuring series is based on the first legal case in American history to have a defendant claim innocence due to demonic possession at the time of the crime. The Exorcism of Emily Rose, on the other hand, is also based on the true story of Annaliese Michel, who underwent 67 exorcism rites in a year, which eventually led to her death. The cause of death was attributed to malnutrition. Her parents and the priest that conducted the exorcism were convicted of negligent homicide in the case.
How much of this case actually inspired (or not) The Conjuring: The Lover remains to be seen, but the premise promises a story worthy of the name that graces its cover. Additionally, The Lover will feature short back-up stories written by some of horror comics most popular creators, including Scott Snyder, Juan Ferreyra, Che Grayson, and Denys Cowan. These stories will focus on the haunted objects that resided in Lorraine and Ed Warren’s infamous artifact room (which is where they kept the Annabelle doll).
It bears mentioning that this new horror imprint might be riding on the shoulders of Joe Hill’s own recent horror imprint, Hill House Comics, which was headlined by Hill’s own Basketful of Heads comic, illustrated by Leomacs. The series that were published as part of the imprint received mostly universal praise and felt as if they belonged in the same habitat as DC’s classic House of Mystery comics.
DC editor-in-chief Marie Javins seems to be aware of this connection. In a statement she released on the new horror imprint, Javins said that “DC has always been the home of great horror comics and characters. DC Horror continues this tradition with new frightening tales from both well-known and new storytellers that will keep fans spooked and entertained.”
With The Conjuring possessing a well-established horror universe and DC recognizing the weight horror carries within its company’s history, it looks like this year is shaping up to be a good one for both veteran and emerging horror fans. The potential behind the new imprint for pulling in new readers, especially in the wake of Hill House’s success, seems to lean favorably towards success.
One thing’s for sure, if this move inspires other publishers to invest in their own horror imprints, they’ll be able to say ‘DC made me do it.’
The Conjuring: The Lover arrives in comic book stores and on participating digital platforms the same day as the U.S. release of The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It—Tuesday, June 1, 2021, with issue #2 available on July 6, 2021.