REVIEW: ‘Refrigerator Full of Heads,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Refrigerator Full of Heads #1

Refrigerator Full of Heads #1 is published by DC Black Label, part of their horror imprint Hill House Comics, written by Rio Youers, with art by Tom Fowler. Bill Crabtree is the colorist, and letters are by Andworld Design. This is a sequel to Basketful of Heads.

In 1983, an armed robbery left a family dead and a magical dagger stolen. A year later, a couple makes their way onto Brody Island in Maine. Marlene and Cal Marshall have arrived so that Marlene can finish her novel. Instantly upsetting members of the community, Cal gets himself into trouble with a biker gang. Running from them leads him to making a magical discovery of his own.

The plot is interesting as an opening gambit. Both the mystical and horror elements are highlighted within the first scene, letting the readers know what is to be expected from the get-go. The set-up of the magical artifacts is fascinating. After the cold open, the comic slows down to let the characters be introduced and the area to be shown. Everything seems off, from the locals to the setting. But it isn’t long before more chaos unfolds with the biker gang, and from there, Refrigerator Full of Heads #1 is an intense rollercoaster ride. The relentless nature of the last third is shocking to the reader. The twist isn’t unexpected as Youers cleverly bookends it with a horrific moment in the first scene. What should be said is that the later moment is at a ferocity that dwarves the opening gore.

While the plot has established itself well, the characters are yet to make a good impression. They have certainly been given personalities, but whether the audience will like them is another story. Cal is the most vocal in the first issue and is instantly obnoxious. But his very presence upsets those around him in the community and may annoy the readers too. The dialogue is poor in many instances, which does not help connect us to them yet. Part of the weakness in the dialogue originates from trying to build exposition within it, taking the place of character development.

Marlene is quiet and boring for three-quarters of the issue. Her dialogue lacks an authentic voice, either trying to tell a story or leave hints for what is yet to come. However, this couple clearly has ulterior motives for arriving in Maine.

The art is fantastic. Fowler is an excellent choice for an artist. The exaggeration of proportions is delicious inside horror comics. When characters emotion, their faces twist in an almost grotesque fashion. The intensity of the facial expressions is seen in numerous examples, but in moments of great stress, it is as unnerving as the horror that has caused the exclamation of fear. Fowler also appears to relish in the freedom to draw gore. There are some stomach-churning depictions of violence in this issue that sets the level for what this imprint sets out to achieve. One in an early page is an accurate statement of intent. When showing body horror or gruesome acts, the art style does boast similarities with the late, great Steve Dillon.

Refrigerator Full of Heads #1 is a rather colorful book considering the horrific nature of the plot and art. The island is vibrant when the Marshalls arrive on it, with lush greens for the forests around it and blue of the sea. Cal is very colourful as a character too. First seen in hot pink shorts, he later upgrades to a bright yellow raincoat. One of the most notable uses of color is the rich red of the blood that tends to coat an entire panel.

The lettering is superbly done, with specific emphasis placed on the SFX. In one of the most intense moments of the comic, the sound effects fill the panel around the characters, drowning them out.

Refrigerator Full of Heads #1 exists as a demonstration. That first scene, while building up its series, is designed in such a way as to work as a final filter before readers can get any deeper. For the faint of heart, turn away. Like this sort of thing? Keep reading. That lack of suspense, instead of being a brutal bloodbath, appears to be the intention in this first issue. The characters will need strengthening for the comic to remain interested, although the sheer chaos of the book and distinct artwork may keep people interested for longer. It should be noted that it is not a requirement to have read the previous series.

Refrigerator Full of Heads #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.


Refrigerator Full of Heads #1
3.5

TL;DR

Refrigerator Full of Heads #1 exists as a demonstration. That first scene, while building up its series, is designed in such a way as to work as a final filter before readers can get any deeper. For the faint of heart, turn away. Like this sort of thing? Keep reading. That lack of suspense, instead of being a brutal bloodbath, appears to be the intention in this first issue. The characters will need strengthening for the comic to remain interested, although the sheer chaos of the book and distinct artwork may keep people interested for longer. It should be noted that it is not a requirement to have read the previous series.