The October Faction (Volume one): A horror comic about a monster-hunting family

The October Faction (volume 1) by Steve Niles (writer) and Damien Worm (artist)The October Faction (Volume one) by by Steve Niles (writer) and Damien Worm (art)

The October Faction is a family affair. Meet the Allans: goth girl and daughter Vivian who has just graduated from high school; Geoff, the son who is college-age but not in college; Frederick, the professor-husband and father and former monster hunter; and Deloris, the absentee and seemingly unfaithful wife and mother who used to assist her husband. Frederick ends his lecture on monsters and meets with an old friend, Lucas, with whom he used to fight monsters, and he warns Frederick that Deloris seems to be up to something suspicious, and from what we can tell at the end of issue one, he is correct. Meanwhile, Geoff surprises Vivian with news of a successful occult experiment. Issue one also introduces us to one of the real strengths of the series: The art. Damien Worm’s art is sketchy and distorted with dark colors. It’s often difficult to make out backgrounds and the art is mysteriously effective. Perfect for a horror series.

The plot takes shape in the second issue as Lucas has a secret meeting with Merle, with whom he is not friendly. And they exchange information. Merle hints that Lucas is betraying a friend who trusts Lucas, and we suspect this friend is Frederick. Frederick is at home at dinner with his kids trying to find out what they plan to do with their lives now that they are no longer in high school. He is not pleased that they inform him that they want to follow in his footsteps. But their talk is interrupted by a call from the police. Deloris has gotten into trouble, and Frederick wants to solve the problem, a rescuer to his wife, who has been attacked and is unconscious in the hospital. Deloris will turn out to be strong enough to not need much protecting.

In the third issue, the plot finally gets complicated as Vivian is followed at night when she leaves the hospital and has a surprise encounter and rescue before she runs off into the dark. Her follower is a key figure in the story. Frederick and Deloris consider going back to hunting monsters, and Geoff starts to develop a friendship with former antagonist and high school jock, Phil, who is haunted by three friends who died in a car wreck. Lucas is in the margins of the story as Merle Cope enters into the tale more fully. Frederick’s reaction to Merle is extreme and surprising to his kids. Merle, for his part, has a simple desire: He just wants to see the downfall and death of Frederick.

As the comic proceeds, Lucas confronts Vivian’s stalker, and Frederick and his kids get involved in cleaning up a bad mess from the end of issue three. Also, Merle Cope is not all he seems, and the story continues to take a darker and darker turn as the Allans slip into the old monster-hunting days of the patriarch. Merle Cope’s role in the story continues to complicate matters, as we meet another member of his family, and when Deloris gets out of the hospital, the family reunion takes a twist with a stranger in the house who has overpowered the help and threatened one of the Allans.

The October Faction is ultimately about the sins of the past coming back to haunt the living in the present. The dead continue to influence the present in the case of the jock, Phil, as well as for the stalker and through Merle Cope. Frederick has made many enemies in his lifetime, and he has few friends. Lucas is both his best friend and betrayer, and Deloris is both the loving and distant wife. As the family comes together, the story reaches its climax, but nothing is fully resolved. However, much is promised as there are several volumes that follow in this series. This is a perfect story to read in October, and I can’t recommend it enough for a fast-paced horror comic. The art is as strong as the story, and you’ll finish volume one needing to read volumes two and three, if you want the full story that is started in volume one.

 

 


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BRAD HAWLEY, who's been with us since April 2012, earned his PhD in English from the University of Oregon with areas of specialty in the ethics of literature and rhetoric. Since 1993, he has taught courses on The Beat Generation, 20th-Century Poetry, 20th-Century British Novel, Introduction to Literature, Shakespeare, and Public Speaking, as well as various survey courses in British, American, and World Literature. He currently teaches Crime Fiction, Comics, and academic writing at Oxford College of Emory University where his wife, Dr. Adriane Ivey, also teaches English. They live with their two young children outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Read Brad's series on HOW TO READ COMICS.

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