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World-building isn’t something every comic book creative team can pull off smoothly, let along whole cloth out of an unestablished comic book universe. Of course, not all creative teams are composed of folks like writer Kelly Thompson, artist Mattia De Iulis, and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaous. What struck me most-notably as I read the first issue of their latest series The Cull, out now from Image Comics, is how fully-formed the world we enter is in just a couple dozen pages.


THE CULL #1 cover


That world is ripe with mystery, angst, and adventure worthy of a new 1980s film romp, as issue #1 follows a group of teens off on one last hurrah in the form of shooting a short film. As the group sets off to their movie locale of a forbidden beach on the edge of town, what we as readers uncover is an undercurrent of emotional turmoil, paired with the brain-breaking extra-dimensional oddities that await them.

What Thompson does so well—and always does so well in any book she tackles—is let you get to know the characters first before throwing them into the deep of adventure. But at the same time, she smartly holds back, keeping as many secrets about the seemingly-fractured relationship of this teenaged cohort as she does about the terrors that await them. De Iulis’ art is gorgeous as always, but also haunting, especially when highlighting the shadows of night, which mimics what is being obscured about these teen’s relationships. And Otsmane-Elhaou shows once again why he’s an industry legend, allowing the lettering to reveal rather than distract.



The Cull #1 has stayed with me for a few days now, lingering like a great mystery should and wanting me to revisit a world that feels instantly familiar and strange. Pick it up now from Image Comics and join in on the undercurrent of discomfort and terror.

From the official issue description:

Eisner-winning writer KELLY THOMPSON (BLACK CLOAK) and superstar artist MATTIA DE IULIS (Captain America) team up for their first creator-owned work together.
Something is Killing the Children horror vibes mix with The Goonies-style adventure as five friends set off to shoot a short film on a forbidden rock near their home the summer before they all go their separate ways. But that’s not really why they’re there. One of them has lied. And that lie will change their lives forever.