Her Infernal Descent #1 is out April 18th from AfterShock Comics, and is written by Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson, with art by Kyle Charles. Colors are by Dee Cunniffe, and letters are by Ryan Ferrier.
The story is a modern retelling of Dante’s Inferno, where a middle-aged mother must traverse the nine circles of Hell to get her family back.
When we first meet the mother, she’s already lost her family. The narration fills us in on her situation, but Kyle Charles’ art is really all you need. She’s a broken woman, going through the motions of packing up her house but not truly “there.” Take the words away, and that’s still abundantly clear; Charles’ visual storytelling is crystal clear.
As she’s packing, the mother encounters the ghost of poet William Blake in her attic. She doesn’t so much as blink at the specter. Blake tells her about her chance to get her family back, and with only two panels of hesitation, she accepts the challenge.
Now this may be confusing and off-putting to some readers, how a person can so blindly accept a ghost in her attic telling her she can go to Hell and get her family back. It doesn’t feel realistic or relatable. However, it’s actually some very subtle character-building by Nadler and Thompson. First off, the mother is so numb to life at this point that seeing a ghost has no effect on her. Second, her love for her family is so strong, and in turn makes her so strong, that she will jump at the chance to go to Hell and get them back. And, really, what else does she have to live for at this point? Why not just take this chance?
In so little time, and with so little emotion, the reader knows exactly where this woman’s head is at the start of her adventure. That’s some strong, concise storytelling by Nadler and Thompson. They don’t dump a ton of unnecessary exposition on the reader. They let their story speak for itself and fill in the blanks.
As mentioned earlier, Kyle Charles’ art game is strong in Her Infernal Descent. The way he and colorist Dee Cunniffe form this world and distinguish the various areas of the afterlife is both interesting and fun to dissect. Cunniffe excels in particular. The way he plays with soft blues and purples, and fiery reds and yellows is beautiful, and it sets the stage perfectly. Again, you can take the words out of this comic and still get a sense of the changing tones. That’s a staple of good art.
Her Infernal Descent #1 lays the groundwork for a dark, interesting, and emotional series. While it can be a bit slow and dense to get through at times, its payoff is worth it for fans of the genre. The biggest emotional payoff will be for those with strong mothers, or for mothers themselves.