Cutter Volume 1 TPB
Publisher: Image Comics
Writers: Robert Napton & Seamus Kevin Fahey
Artist: Christian Dibari
Review by Anelise Farris
Cutter Volume 1 collects the first four issues of Cutter—all of which were published in October of 2014. I am not sure why they waited three years to compose a volume, but, due to our present Halloween season (which is basically all year for me), I am perfectly happy that they did. The horror starts right away in Cutter Volume 1: a man is tied to a tree, and a woman is wielding giant shears. From here, we get thrown back to one week earlier, and we are introduced to Jeremy and his pregnant wife Helen. It quickly becomes evident that Jeremy is going to play a key part in unraveling the mystery surrounding the recent murders in Hatfield, North Carolina.
As Cutter Volume 1 progresses, more students from Jeremy’s graduating class are killed, and it all seems somehow tied back to a girl named Emily. Emily, as it turns out, was the town’s favorite person to bully. Long thought dead, the town begins to think that either Emily never died or that she has returned as a vengeful ghost. Eager to put an end to this southern massacre, Jeremy leads the efforts to find Emily—learning more about her troubled past along the way. Just as issue four starts, you begin to think you have it figured out—only to have everything you expected completely turned on its head. Even for a horror veteran like myself, Cutter Volume 1 ends with a surprising twist that left me smiling—not at the gore of course, but at how well it was executed (no pun intended).
The bullied-turned-serial-killer is a familiar horror plot; however, Cutter Volume 1 manages to present this narrative in a way that feels new, while still paying homage to the horror tradition. The comic is done entirely in black and white, but this doesn’t in any way detract from the horror. Blood doesn’t have to be red to be horrifying. And, the intense line-work, shadowing, and play with crosshatching and various textures adds a lot of depth and emotion to this work. My only complaint, a minor one at that, is that I wish we had found out more about why Emily was bullied so ruthlessly. Sometimes there isn’t a why—I totally get that—but I feel like there is more to the story that we aren’t getting. Likewise, throughout the series the art (as well as the title of course) suggests that Emily practiced self-harm, though this is never addressed directly. I’m curious to see if this series is going to be revisited, as the conclusion of Cutter Volume 1 hints that this town hasn’t seen the end of this vicious cycle.
Verdict: Buy it! Why should you buy this comic? Well, one, it’s Halloween season, so consume all the horror you can as often as possible. And, two, it’s a really well-written (and gorgeously-drawn!) horror story with a great balance of familiarity and novelty.