Double Walker is published by Comixology through their digital imprint Comixology Originals. It comes from the creative team of writer Michael W. Conrad, artist Noah Bailey, and letterer Taylor Esposito. The story opens with a man standing over a small pool of water as two people try to convince him to come away from it. The perspective then shifts to a faery tale. An old Scottish legend of the Old Man of Storr, a giant who died and became a local mountain. We then see that the story is being told to a young couple Cully and his pregnant wife, Gemma. The two are on a sightseeing tour in Scotland and are taking in the local scenery.
After a trip to a pub and a visit to Loch Ness, the two set their sights on the Storr. When they arrive, the weather has taken a turn for the worse, and Gemma’s condition makes hiking difficult. Soon she has to stop and rest, but Cully goes on without her to see the once-in-a-lifetime sights. When he returns from his hike, he finds Gemma collapsed on the ground, barely conscious and babbling in Gaelic. Though he safely gets her down the Storr, what comes with them brings horrors beyond imagining.
I didn’t know what to expect when I signed up to review the Double Walker, except that it was a horror story. What I got was one of the single most gripping, fascinating, and horrific graphic novels that I’ve ever read. The story is absolutely steeped in Scottish folklore and weaves all of it into the narrative in a way that constantly keeps you guessing about the true nature of the story itself. This is done through the tales of a wise bartender. His stories about the Fae are a grim reminder of the bleak nature of classic faery tales. These aren’t the cute Disney faeries that people often associate with the name, but rather vicious, murderous ones straight from the Brothers Grimm. This becomes dreadfully apparent when the bodies start piling up.
But beneath the exquisite horror is an authentic story about change. The fear of losing yourself or the people you care about to the passage of time and to life itself. Its no coincidence that the bulk of the action in this story revolves around Gemma’s pregnancy. This side of the story really hit home with me as a father. I will never forget the realization that nothing would ever be the same and that my wife and I would have to change to prepare ourselves for this new person. That anxiety is perfectly portrayed in the tension and strife that Cully and Gemma face. There were, however, significantly fewer murders involved with the birth of my daughter, but I digress.
The art is absolutely gorgeous with heavy pencil strokes visible in the shading, but also clear linework on the characters. It gives the world a dreamlike quality that perfectly fits with the darkly magical Scottish countryside that the story takes place in. It also carries a very distinct style that is reminiscent of Edward Gorey. Particularly the adherence to stark black and white colors and somewhat exaggerated facial features on characters. Then comes the violence. Seldom have I seen violence of a nature this graphic in comics, and its presentation is perfect.
There are pages and panels of calm, action-less dialogue and then suddenly a headless disemboweled torso on display in a full-page splash. The casual nature with which this brutality is shown and the way it lingers was instantly reminiscent of an Ari Aster film. Also strong are the letters from Esposito. Though they aren’t flashy, the letter work is great because it is exceedingly easy to read. Even on panels of near pure darkness, the letters are clear and perfectly legible. In a story like this, every word counts, and Esposito makes sure that the reader doesn’t miss a single one.
I have to be honest; Double Walker absolutely floors me. I came in with no expectations and walked away feeling like I’d just read a masterpiece. The story, art, and letters all coalesce into what is easily my favorite horror comic of the year so far and potentially of the 2020s. I can’t necessarily recommend this to every horror fan as the violence is absolutely brutal. But regardless, it is still a perfect story and comes with my highest recommendation.
Double Walker is available now, only through Comixology.
I came in with no expectations and walked away feeling like I’d just read a masterpiece. The story, art, and letters all coalesce into what is easily my favorite horror comic of the year so far and potentially of the 2020s.