Proctor Valley Road #3 is published by BOOM! Studios. It comes from the creative team of writers Grant Morrison and Alex Child, artist Naomi Franquiz, colorist Tamra Bonvillain, and letterer Jim Campbell. With their second trip to find the missing boys on Proctor Valley Road a terrifying failure, this issue opens with the girls in the principal’s office. He explains to them the trouble they are in while also taking potshots at their academics and social lives. The girls brush him off and prepare another foray into the haunted valley to clear their names.
Together the girls head to the library to learn more about the mysterious Landlady they encountered on the Road. The librarian tells them how she was an outsider who was burned alive after being accused of murder. The resulting wildfire destroyed much of the surrounding area rendering the Proctor Valley Road haunted. But as the girls steel themselves to go back, the librarian leaves them with a dire warning. Anyone who sees the Landlady is as good as dead.
Proctor Valley Road #3 left me with some very conflicting feelings. Morrison and Child have crafted a fun and entertaining story, to be sure. But at the same time, it feels incredibly disjointed. The previous issue ended with the girls meeting the Landlady while on the Road. This issue opens with them being scolded by their principal. At first, I was confused because it is never shown how they escape this encounter. There are bits of visual continuity that indicate that this meeting with the principal is not a flashback either. This makes it really difficult to feel invested in the events of the story. I struggle to worry about the danger the girls face when the next issue can show them safe again.
It is possible that this is part of the narrative, which could develop these time skips in an interesting way. But as it stands right now, it just feels kind of lazy. This becomes a bigger issue when you consider the Road itself within the world. We have seen a handful of trips out into the Road, and all of them have resulted in terrifying experiences, and many of them also involved the deaths of the travelers. Which begs the question, if this Road is so haunted that people die on it regularly, why doesn’t anyone believe the girls? Plot holes like this don’t ruin the story, but they definitely keep it from being great.
The art continues to be solid and maintains the series’ identity as a coming of age horror story. The characters are dynamic and emotive. But the real stars are the monsters. Franquiz does a phenomenal job turning even mundane creatures like coyotes into fearsome beasts. But the minotaur-like entity that chases the girls is equally awesome and terrifying. Bonvillain’s colors keep everything feeling appropriate for the setting. Warm palettes indicate a desert town. Not to mention how those oranges and yellows help convey the feeling of 70s movies. Campbell’s letters are well implemented. Particularly the use of bolding to place emphasis on dialogue.
Overall I’m really torn about Proctor Valley Road #3. I still find the narrative to be very interesting and want to stick with it. But the plot holes are keeping it from greatness. Perhaps all will be explained in the future, and I’ll be able to look back, say that I was wrong, and this is truly a great period horror story. But for the time being, I will just have to wait and see what comes next.
Proctor Valley Road #3 is available now wherever comics are sold.
Proctor Valley Road #3
…the plot holes are keeping it from greatness. Perhaps all will be explained in the future, and I’ll be able to look back, say that I was wrong, and this is truly a great period horror story. But for the time being, I will just have to wait and see what comes next.