REVIEW: ‘Mountainhead,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Mountainhead #1 - But Why Tho

They say there’s a special kind of madness that comes from spending too much time in the Rocky Mountains. They call it “Mountainhead.” Climb too high among the rocky peaks, and you might just find yourself losing your grip on reality. The only thing that feels real, they say, is the mountain. So real, in fact, that you might just never come back down. IDW Publishing‘s Mountainhead #1 is a sub zero blend of psychological thriller and visceral horror, this weird tale was brought to life by writer John Lees and artist Ryan Lee, with colors by Doug Garbark and letters from Shawn Lee.

For as long as Abraham Stubbs can remember he and his father Noah have lived off the grid. They roam from town to town, moving from one fleabag Motel to the next. At night the pair break into empty houses, stealing what they need to survive. it’s a hard life, maybe. But following Abraham’s father’s golden rules has always kept them one step ahead of the law. “Don’t slow down. Don’t get comfortable. Don’t think you’re safe. Be ready to run. When a routine burglary  goes haywire, Abraham’s world turns upside down. Separated from his father, Abraham finds himself plunged into a harrowing tale of hidden secrets and frozen terror. 

Now, when I say that Mountainhead #1 is a sick comic, I don’t want you to misunderstand me. Mountainhead #1 gets under your skin in the best way. The creative team Lees, Lee, Garbuk and Lee have crafted a horror comic in the truest sense of the word. Every element of the book seems to be built around Noah Stubbs’ golden rules:  “Don’t slow down. Don’t get comfortable. Don’t think you’re safe. Be ready to run.

Panic, dread, and disgust all combine to create a feverish aura of diseased paranoia,  It’s unpredictable and twisted and that’s something I love about this book. With only a hint of the supernatural lurking in the backdrop, Mountainhead will have readers scratching their skin with every page.

Manic paranoia is the name of the game, and few comics have captured that feeling the way that Mountainhead #1 does. Noah Stubbs has the wild eyed intensity of a paranoid schizophrenic. His lectures read like the sort of manifestos you find in the dark corners of the internet, while his wildly unstable mood swings keep the comic on its toes. Mountainhead #1‘s sense of paranoia only gets stronger when you look at its art.

In addition to some brilliant panel design, artist Ryan Lee‘s style merges the cartoonishly deformed with hyper detail. If you’ve ever seen a gallery of “Simpsons characters in real life”, you’re in the right ballpark. Lee lavishes every character in minuscule visceral details. He fills every face with wrinkles, stubble, blocked pores and uneven gumlines. They’re warped human figures, proportions just wrong enough to make them uncomfortable to look at. 

Of course, colorist Doug Garbark takes Mountainhead #1’s gangrenous aura to the next level, granting the comic a garbage pail kid chic, if you will. While Garbark’s diseased pallet is full low saturated hues, the book is chock full of gorgeous color. There’s a moment in the comic when Abraham lets loose a green geyser of vomit that would give Linda Blair a run for her money. Everything’s so gross, but so beautifully colored and balanced that you can’t look away. 

Mountainhead #1 launches the 5-part series at an astronomical rate. A tale of family lies, and the secrets that lie high up in the mountains, Mountainhead #1 just shot up to the top of my pull list. Now repeat after me. Don’t slow down. Don’t get comfortable. Don’t think you’re safe. Be ready to buy this comic.


Mountainhead
5

TL;DR

Mountainhead #1 launches the 5-part series at an astronomical rate. A tale of family, lies, and the secrets that lie high up in the mountains, Mountainhead #1 just shot up to the top of my pull list.