The October Faction: Deadly Season #2 ComicWow! Review

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The October Faction – Steve Niles first ongoing comic – is full of examples of why we love Steve Niles.

This is something of an interstitial issue. There is some action here, but it is mostly exposition and character development/exploration.  Geoff and Phillip, his boyfriend, have an evening out together. Vivian and Dante bring home an unexpected guest.  Fred and Delores, Geoff and Vivian’s parents are having a quiet night at home.

But, this is a Steve Niles story, so there’s a bit more to it.  Phillip is a Vampire, and their “evening out” involves stealing blood from a local hospital.  (By the way, Geoff and Phillip are not telling Geoff’s parents that he’s secretly moved in.)  Vivian and Dante’s “unexpected guest” is a corpse-eating ghoul whom they bring home in the hopes that Frederick, the occult expert and monster hunter, who recently came partially out of retirement, can help. This leads to a classic line: “What did I tell you kids about bringing the undead into the house?”

This is why we love Steve Niles.

Niles has a way of mixing the macabre and the commonplace without lessening the import of either.  His sense of balance is superb. Niles, understanding that relationships, like characters, need time and space to develop, does exactly that.  Issues like this are not wasted space, like many monthly comics who have to fill space with meaningless drivel between story arcs.  Niles understands the importance of this type of development to the point where he places it inside the arc.

In terms of action, Something Bad happens to Frederick near the end of this issue.  Some readers might cite the continual attacks on Frederick Allan as a weakness of the series, but this is actually part of the premise of the series.  Frederick retired from monster hunting because he was afraid of the monsters he hunted finding him and going after him.  In order to protect his family, he settled down, retired, and ‘went mundane,’ so to speak.  That the forces of Evil would simply forget him and allow him to live out his days in domestic peace is an unrealistic dream on his part.

Niles continues to stay true to the original premise, this is similar to the way he worked with 30 Days of Night.  At a point where lesser writers would have introduced ‘sparkly’ vampires or some other nonsense, Niles returned to Barrow with a vengeance, mining the core concept for new ways to bring out the horror.  Here, he returns to the core concept to find new ways to explore the family dynamics that are at the root of The October Faction.

This is why we love Steve Niles.

Niles has tremendous talent not only with story and plot, but also with character.  He created an ensemble cast that is unique not only as formidable beings in their own right, but as three dimensional characters, well rounded and dynamic, who can be in simultaneous harmony and conflict with their family.  In short, he made these characters REAL.  His dialogue rings true to reality, even when describing the fantastic and phantasmagorical.

This is why we love Steve Niles.

Damien Worm’s artwork is unique.  He has a special style that is difficult to describe.  It is angular and harsh, but at the same time very impressionistic.  It is augmented by his sense of color and shading, which is distinctive and somewhat impressionistic.  He sets color as a visual leitmotif for a panel, a page, or even an entire scene.

As much as the October Faction is a story about monsters and those who hunt them, it is a story about monster hunters and those who love them.  This is not just a story about monsters; it is a story about family.  Butch Patrick (Eddie Munster in the beloved and legendary TV series) said at a con that while the Addams Family were monsters that looked like normal people, the Munsters were normal people who looked like monsters.  The Allan family is still trying to figure out which description fits them.

And that is why we love Steve Niles.

Written by: Steve Niles

Illustrated by: Damien Worm

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