Everything #1 is published by Dark Horse Comics, written by Christopher Cantwell, art by I. N. J. Culbard, and letters by Steve Wands. In sleepy Holland, Michigan, the new department store Everything is opening. With lots of fanfare and cheer, things seem to be on the rise in Holland, Michigan. But looks, in this case, are deceiving.
Everything #1 instantly takes the reader back in time. From the design of characters and buildings to the feel of mock flyers adorned with vintage 70s ads, artist I. N. J. Culbard misses no chance to create the feel of a bygone era. One where a new department store opening would generate newsworthy buzz. The decision to place the story in that earlier time is perfect on several levels. First, it is much more believable. For an entire town to be excited about a department store when so many of us utilize online shopping options today would seem weird. And not the kind of weird the story is going for.
Second, placing stories that seek to create a creepy tone in this era always feels like a good call to me. Maybe it’s just a subconscious association with the creepy stories of my childhood, but placing a story like Everything #1 in the 70s gives it an instant venire of quality. It helps cement the themes that writer Christopher Cantwell only begins to allude to.
Everything #1 begins what is clearly intended to be a slow-burn story. Shortly after the opening of Everything #1, some things start seeming off in cozy Holland. Like any good slow-burn, much of what is transpiring would be dismissed taken each by themselves. It creates that desire to see what the escalation will be. What will happen next?
Perhaps the best oddity in Everything #1 comes from the store manager, Shirley. While Shirley puts forward the air of the “happy to help” store manager, she quickly becomes a little too happy. While she never does any one thing that is concerning, her attitude as a whole becomes so chipper it just feels wrong. I couldn’t help but mutter “no one is THAT happy” while reading.
The only struggle I had with Everything #1 as a starting point was in its approach to characters. More specifically, it’s lack thereof. While clearly trying to set up an ensemble cast for the series, I barely got to know any characters at all. While I appreciated Everything #1’s desire to establish its setting with many panels of textless scenery, it left me feeling like some of that time could have been better spent with the characters.
When taken as a whole, Everything #1 sets up its story with all the classic hallmarks of an eerie tale. From the quiet unsuspecting town to the weird outsider that has to be up to something, it feels like Everything #1 has a lot of potential. Especially if the creative team can establish their characters going forward as well as they have established their story’s setting.
Everything #1 is September 4, 2019.
When taken as a whole, Everything #1 sets up its story with all the classic hallmarks of an eerie tale.