ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Hotell,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Hotell Issue #1 Cover

Hotell #1 is published by AWA Studios. The script is written by John Lees, with art from Dalibor Talajic, colors by Lee Loughridge and the lettering is done by Sal Cipriano. Late one night, a pregnant woman named Alice is on the road, fleeing an abusive relationship. While driving down route 66, she spots a sign for a “hotell” named Pierrot Courts. Once she checks into room one and falls asleep she begins to have strange dreams about her unborn child who seems to be speaking to her through the womb. When she awakens she notices that one of her breasts is bleeding. Once she realizes that she needs to keep moving so that her ex won’t catch up to her, she finds that she can’t seem to leave Pierrot Courts, because she feels too tired, and with more rest come more dreams.

The pacing in John Lees’ story was fine, up until the last few pages. It just felt a bit abrupt. There were a couple of reasons for this. One was that once it is revealed what is causing Alice’s dreams, there isn’t any explanation about what it is and Alice dispatches it. But maybe all that matters is that you do get a sense of what it seems to want through the dialogue, and you know it’s evil. What makes the ending more surprising is an explosion and a couple of other things that I won’t reveal, to avoid spoilers. Lees was doing well building the strange and creepy tone of Hotell #1, up until then. Don’t get me wrong those final pages are still strange, but it leaves you wondering what is going on?

It’s obvious that a lot of what happened on those final pages of Hotell #1 will be explained in the next few issues. Lees wrote a story that made me feel like I was watching an episode from The Twilight Zone. This is good because you know you can expect something weird and scary. And just like the tv show we get a host/narrator by way of the hotel clerk, named Jack Lynch. The way Lees set up this mini-series it appears that each issue will focus on a different character and we might have even met a couple of them in this issue already. I’m curious to see what Lees does in the next three issues because I’m really interested in what exactly was going on around Alice as her story was ending.

Hotell Issue #1

Dalibor Talajic’s art is reminiscent of what I would come to expect from a lot of horror comic books. This a good thing. In a horror comic book like Hotell #1, facial expressions are important since it adds to the tension being built up in the story, and Talajic does a good job of this especially for Alice. The sequence on page 9 of Alice sitting on the edge of her bed, discovering the blood on her breast is a good example of this. Another good example of this is on page 11, panel 4, after being introduced to Bobby Stansfield and his wife Muriel. In that panel, Bobby stands behind his wife seemingly shocked, and she has a sinister smile on her face as she says goodbye to Alice. I’m guessing we will learn more about Bobby and Muriel in a future issue.

I did notice that the consistency of Talajic’s borders was a bit off. On page 7 as Alice begins to dream about her ex, the borders of the panels on that page look like they were drawn with someone with a shaky hand, but of course, it’s done intentionally to convey the dream sequence. However, throughout the rest of the issue, the dream sequence panels have solid borders. It does not have a major negative effect on the story, but as I said, I personally think using the wobbly-looking borders for all the dream sequences would have shown some consistency.

Other than that I liked the organization of the panels on page 17. Panels 1, 3 and 5 are all the same size and show Alice talking herself into leaving Pierrot Courts, while panels 2, 4 and 6 show what’s happening in her bathroom. I like this sequence because Talajic uses the panels to show that while Alice is doing something in her room on panel 1, panel 2 which is right next to it, shows that something is occurring simultaneously in the bathroom. This happens throughout the next four panels.

Cipriano did well on the lettering duties, especially for the thing that is talking to Alice in her dreams. The border of its word balloons is uneven, the words are not aligned and the letters are not all the same size. You can almost hear the scratchy evil voice every time it utters “mommy” during its dialogue.

 Overall, Hotell #1 starts out strong but ends in a confusing manner. That being said, the surreal ending makes me want to read the next three issues to find out if any of the imagery at the end is explained through interconnected stories. Aside from that, I like the format the creative team is using for their story, which is a throwback to classic horror comic book series and shows like The Twilight ZoneSo far there is a solid base that makes this issue worth a read.

Hotell #1 is available wherever comics are sold on March 18, 2020.

Hotell #1
3.5

TL;DR

Hotell #1 starts out strong but ends in a confusing manner. That being said, the surreal ending makes me want to read the next three issues to find out if any of the imagery at the end is explained through interconnected stories. Aside from that, I like the format the creative team is using for their story, which is a throwback to classic horror comic book series and shows like The Twilight Zone. So far there is a solid base that makes this issue worth a read.