An opening chapter with compelling characters that teases something remarkably monstrous coming our way.

Review: THE CULL #1 – Here There Be Monsters

From writer Kelly Thompson (Captain Marvel; Black Cloak) and artist Mattia De Iulis, comes the beginning of a dimensional-breaking monster story in The Cull #1. Featuring letters by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, this opening chapter introduces our main cast and their relationships while teasing something much bigger – literally – to come.

“Something is Killing the Children horror vibes mix with The Goonies-style adventure as five friends set off to shoot a short film on a forbidden rock near their home the summer before they all go their separate ways. But that’s not really why they’re there. One of them has lied. And that lie will change their lives forever.”

Writing & Plot

Kelly Thompson focuses on building her cast of characters and teasing this story’s genre elements with The Cull #1. This group of five friends living close to a rocky beach comes together to make a short film before their new adult lives take them all to different places. In the process, they come upon some sort of alternate dimension – where the core plot and potentially monstrous side-effects come into play. It is admittedly a little tricky to review a chapter that focuses almost entirely on character establishment. Thompson is clearly set on introducing readers to her cast, showing us their interpersonal relationships, and the lives they lead at home. Each person is loaded with their own baggage, from familial abuse to grieving a loss. This works to the comic’s benefit, as each character feels fleshed out by the end of the issue. Naturalistic conversations or one-off windows into each person’s life are paced out in a way that lets each scene stick with the reader. In a moment of brilliance, we don’t get the main protagonists’ motivations until the final page, when the genre breach has been discovered and it’s too late to turn back. The slight hints planted at the beginning of the comic regarding this story’s monsters will have to be enough to keep readers wanting to see some sci-fi horror action interested if the character work isn’t enough. Altogether, Thompson pens a stellar character-focused script that sets readers up for the monster mayhem to come.

Art Direction

Artist Mattia De Iulis is on hand to bring the visual experience of The Cull #1 to life, and he does so in stellar fashion. His eye for detail in both character design and environments is fantastic, and his sequential direction is sharp and well-paced. Each cast member has a unique sense of style and set of features that match their personality. Facial expressions are drawn with an incredible sense of animation, making these characters feel more and more human with each scene. While we don’t get much of the horror/sci-fi aspect in this opening chapter, what we do get is gorgeous and uniquely imposing. Iulis’s fine pencils create a high-production, photorealistic art style seen more often in mainstream comics (see his work at Marvel for more examples). That being said, he still clearly has a defined style outside of just that hi-fidelity approach. This staggering amount of fidelity is matched by his atmospheric color work. Almost every panel is created in a low-light scenario, since this issue takes place in the early hours of the morning. Most of the color is provided by lighting from phone screens, candles, or even a sort of loose RGB-inspired tone. The use of soft, warm tones easily brings readers into the nervous quietness this opening issue uses. When we aren’t indoors, the ocean mist and early morning fog continue to create a sense of setting. As for Iluis’s sequential direction, he utilizes the visual aspect of comic storytelling with meticulous structure. Most pages are made up of four landscape-style panels all stacked on top of each other. As this comic is a window into these characters’ lives, these largely silent panels do all the work of getting readers familiar with the cast using minimal dialogue. There is a sort of cinematic quality that these wide panels create, which makes sense given that the comic is partially about these characters making a short film. Overall, the visual work here is outstanding.


The Cull #1 is a deeply intriguing first issue. Kelly Thompson focuses on building the backstories and personal struggles of this group of young adults ahead of the big sci-fi genre twist we know is coming in future issues. Mattia De Iulis’s visual work is a brilliant blend of stylized photo-realism and pseudo-cinematic sequential direction that perfectly creates the tone and pacing for this opening chapter. Be sure to grab this debut issue when it hits shelves on August 17th!



Justin Munday
Justin Munday
Reader and hoarder of comics. Quietly sipping coffee, reading, and watching sci-fi in Knoxville, TN.
An opening chapter with compelling characters that teases something remarkably monstrous coming our way. Review: THE CULL #1 - Here There Be Monsters