In Com.X’s soon to be released (December 19th, 2012) Babble, a quest for a universal translator to unite the world turns into a nightmare. Read on for our review!
Carrie Hartnoll is you average lost mid-twenties girl. Her life in London has come to a standstill with a boyfriend in a lame duck rut and dreams of one day feeling as good and loved as she did with her professor/mentor at university, Alan Curtis. A chance meeting between the former lovers leads her to a brand new life as she leaves everything she had behind to work in America at a prestigious university. Her expertise in languages brings Alan to offer her a job on a project he’s working on – a universal translator to unite the world under a common language. As she begins this new journey, and learns she’s replacing a linguist who committed suicide shortly before her running into Alan, she soon finds that this exciting opportunity is not all that she thinks it is. In fact, her world turns into a nightmare when the key to the translator puzzle the former scientist was working on is not meant to unite the world, but do quite the opposite.
Writer Lee Robson and artist Bryan Coyle’s tale is a brilliant mix of nearly every single genre to build a story full of tension. I literally was at the edge of my seat as I read it. As a story, it’s a wonderfully crafted, and incredibly intense horror tale at heart. Surrounding that terrifying heart, Babble includes a story of friends as Carrie and her colleague, Si, grow into best friends, a sexy love story between Carrie and Alan, and a mystery left behind by the mysterious Professor Cartwright whose death was puzzling, but his obsessive ramblings don’t give as much clues to his eventual death as it may seem. On top of that is an effective action element that cuts in between scenes and moments of the main story serving as the other half of this story showing what’s gone wrong.
What Babble really excels at is a fresh take on a zombie apocalypse like story. I almost hate using that term – zombie apocalypse – because that’s not what this story really is. Reading this, I couldn’t help but think of something like 28 Days Later. When that came along, zombie movies had grown stale. That film showed that it could take that same fear that George Romero’s zombies instilled in audiences and spin it into something a little different. This isn’t about the dead crawling up out of the ground, it was about a virus that had broken out. Even when The Walking Dead hit comic book stores, it went back to the roots of Romero’s classic “Dead” trilogy by focusing more on people surviving what this world had become.
Unable to shake those comparisons doesn’t hurt Babble at all. In fact, it reminds me how the zombie genre of horror needed 28 Days Later and The Walking Dead. Babble is fitting into that realm. It’s using a truly unique idea of how absolutely important language has always been to the human race. By bringing in the theological aspect, it ups the intensity that much more and twists this mystery into something that spirals out of the control of the characters. It’s through the characters’ own obsessions and unwillingness to heed the signs of this being a potentially dangerous thing that creates even more fear in the reader. Seeing these last few days of what humanity was like before they become unthinking, unrelenting beings of pure anger and confusion is flat out horrifying – never mind the scenes after everything went to shit.
Speaking of those scenes, Coyle does an amazing job on the art side of this graphic novel. It’s even discussed at the end of the book how important the look of the book would play into the overall experience of Babble. When the world is still what we know it to be, there’s an almost whimsical brightness in the blue tones used in the art. Characters look happy and young and full of life. When we see Carrie’s desperate fight for survival after everything has gone wrong, it’s darker and much more dirty and gritty with the help of a golden yellow tone. Carrie doesn’t look like the love struck girl of her twenties looking to finally grow up. She’s hardened and tough fighting off these people transformed into living weapons. It may be as simple as it gets in terms of showing a difference between the two aspects of the story, but it’s so vital to the story, and so well executed, Coyle’s visuals become every bit as important as Robson’s story.
Anyone looking for a truly terrifying story to satisfy their thirst for horror should check out Babble. I recommend this to anyone who loves psychological thrillers. In an era that both comics and movies are so quick to just pour on the gore for shock value, Robson and Coyle gives us something much better, and, sadly, unique – a horror story that actually scares us.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Spectacular horror story that terrifies and keeps the reader on edge. Brilliant writing and brilliant artwork from Robson and Coyle.||None.|