Look beneath the Veil - Veil 1

Veil 1
Written by Greg Rucka
Illustrated by Tony Fejzula
Published by Dark Horse Comics

Veil is a new supernatural horror comic series from writer Greg Rucka and artist Tony Fejzula.  This is a strong debut issue with striking, unusual art and a sense of menace and dread.

Veil 1 tells an ominous tale of a woman who awakens naked, surrounded by rats, in an abandoned subway station. She's completely disoriented, and her grasp of language is somewhat limited. She plays with rhyme and words in a way that they seem new to her, or like something she's lost and is trying to regain. She's locked in the station but is curiously able to break through the locks. Not surprisingly, when she emerges on the city streets (a beautiful woman, completely naked) she gets a lot of attention. Some of that attention is sinister, particularly a man named Vincent and his friends who have less-than-noble intentions for her. Another man, Dante (who seems to know Vincent and the others), intervenes to get her away from Vincent. She tells him her name is Veil, and he takes her to his place to get her some clothes and to help her figure out what to do. Veil opens the door and Vincent and his friends are there to take "what's theirs" (that being her). Not to give too much away, but this ends very poorly for them, and we learn by the end of the issue that you'd better not make Veil angry (as you wouldn't like her when she's angry).

Rucka and Fejzula's storytelling is very strong in this issue; it feels like Rucka has put a lot of trust in Fejzula's ability to tell the story visually (as there's very little dialogue in this issue), and Fejzula does not disappoint. Even before we see Veil, the comic starts with sinister foreboding images (a pentagram, a candle, money changing hands) which gives the reader a good sense of where this story takes place.

The art throughout the issue is effective at telling the story and creating a mood (so much so that if you removed all the dialogue the story would probably work just as well). Beyond sequential storytelling, the art is striking and unique - the coloring looks almost like watercolors, and the expressive tones set the mood of the story. The character depictions are fairly stylized (as is the action), but the background details (the subway station, the city scene, the apartment) provide some necessary and welcome grounding.

Veil is simultaneously a sympathetic and genuinely frightening character. Her disorientation is palpable, and her manner of speech (rhyming and alliteration) is both funny and sort of unsettling (as it gives of a slightly insane/serial killer vibe). At the same time, it's clear that she is scared and confused. Dante's kindness and compassion come through in the story, but it feels like he's getting himself in over his head and that things may not end well for him either. At the end of the issue, Veil and Dante are on the move, confused, disoriented and very curious, just where the reader is left as well. This issue is intriguing and unsettling in the best possible way, and for fans of horror and supernatural mystery, it's well worth a look.