Hi. I’m Matt. I like horror comics, terrible Chicago sports teams, and long walks through hell…as in, I’m REALLY enjoying A Walk Through Hell from Aftershock comics. In issue #1, we were introduced to two anti-Trump detectives (the hate is strong with these two), who stumble upon a strange occurrence in which a tactical team of officers enters a warehouse and immediately returns, having lost their damned minds. Somehow confident that what happened to a group of trained officers won’t happen to them, detectives Shaw and McGregor enter the warehouse…
…Which is exactly where we begin in A Walk Through Hell #2, written by Garth Ennis (Preacher) with art by Goran Sudzuka (Hellblazer). In this issue, Shaw and McGregor come back to consciousness to realize they have made a grave mistake. Lost in an abysmally dark warehouse with shadows creeping in around every frame, nothing is as it seems, McGregor has no pulse, and not even the laws of death seem to apply. If this really were a walk through hell, then Shaw and McGregor have only just stepped onto the path, and that’s what has me so excited for the rest of this series. To say that A Walk Through Hell #2 is dark is an understatement. There is some fucked up shit in this comic that will have you staying up with the lights on, trying to figure out what it all means.
What I really loved about the first issue, and what has continued here, is that A Walk Through Hell #2 is FILLED with overwhelming dread. In everything, from Sudzuka’s disturbing imagery down to the carefully crafted dialogue, there is a sense that there will be something terrible on the other side of each page, and in some cases, there is. One moment in particular involves someone who just will not die, no matter how vigilantly they try to commit the act themselves. Couple that with flashbacks that hint at some of the troubling choices that Shaw and McGregor have made in their past, and its clear that these characters are dealing with some kind of personal hell. Of course, its WAY too early to be certain of anything in a comic that keeps surprising me with every turn of the page, so there could be other forces at work here. In fact, I’d be surprised if any of you were able to crack the code in just two issues, but that’s part of the fun of this unsettling mystery.
What’s not so mysterious is the blatant anti-trump politics which scream at you from the page like a group of angry democrats who haven’t had their morning coffee yet. I personally have no problem with it, but I can see how those who lean a little more right may not enjoy scenes such as McGregor and Shaw talking about the upcoming election. While Trump’s name isn’t used, its damn sure inspired by him, with McGregor saying “it’s just this damn election...And I know he can’t win…he’s saying things its not okay to say…somehow making it okay…like its resonating with people”. If you hadn’t guessed from that, there’s some pretty heavy themes going on in A Walk Through Hell #2. In this issue, Ennis deals with racism. McGregor and Shaw converse on social politics, and how each of them deals with sexism and racism in the workplace. Moments like these really make A Walk Through Hell #2 stand out. These conversations add some interesting layers to a comic that could so easily be just another horror comic, but is so much more than that.
I’m pretty into what Ennis and Sudzuka are doing here. Together, they’ve managed to create a comic that goes well beyond standard horror tropes and asks its audience to really think about the world around them. The mystery of what is happening to these characters has only continued to grow in a A Walk Through Hell #2, and I’m anxiously awaiting the next entry. In the meantime, I’ll ponder on what this story is trying to say, though I doubt it’s a stretch to say the implication here is that we’re all in hell these days. Ugh, time to turn on cartoons and go to my happy place.
By Matt Konopka