Admittedly, I used to do an incredibly poor job of straying away from the Big Two and diversifying my pull box. It took being involuntarily locked away in isolation at the height of a pandemic, with no pull box in sight for several more months, to take a look at what I was missing. Image, Vault, IDW, Oni Press, Mad Cave, and yes, BOOM! Studios: all these new literary universes to explore, chock full of fun, zany, terrifying, and fantastical worlds. Since then, I cannot get enough. Despite a relatively newfound passion for this side of comics, it would be disingenuous to feign a familiarity with the work of Jeremy Haun, let alone his name. That is a problem soon to be corrected after diving headfirst into the first issue of The Approach, Haun’s latest series with co-author Jason Hurley and illustrator Jesús Hervás.
This first issue is solid but not flawless. It reads in a manner similar to how a dramatic thriller feature might play out and could not do so without Hervás’ wonderfully depicted and unique art style. While not an inherent negative, the straightforward and somewhat routine introduction may be a test of patience for some. That being said, if given a chance to warm up, readers should take note of how The Approach’s dialogue isn’t encumbered with useless filler information. The story tells you what you want to know, and its art shows you what you need to see; it’s a delightful balance that many titles surprisingly can’t seem to swing with their debut. An image still seared into my mind is too spoiler-y to elaborate on, but it will be these horrific hooks that burn bright and expertly engage the reader. By the end of The Approach’s first issue, I found myself more invested than I thought possible. If you choose to read on from here, beware! It’s not scary, but definitely a bit spoiler-y.
Set in a location that could easily be plopped down anywhere above the North American 43rd parallel, the story simultaneously thrusts readers into the action as its characters experience it. Mac and Abi, two mainstay airport employees, are prepping the tarmac for an emergency landing during the squall of an uncommonly rigorous blizzard. All goes well without incident as the passengers are whisked into the airport, a warm refuge from the harsh and frigid elements. The rapidly enclosing storm is more than a metaphor potentially foreshadowing imminent doom, carrying within it a second unknown plane barreling to the ground in a fiery explosion. Mac and Abi reach into the hellfire engulfing this plane to hoist out the horridly burned remains of its pilot. Storing the remains in the airport’s infirmary, Mac and Abi are unaware of the grotesque danger they have ushered in. Equally mysterious is the revelation that the unknown plane, this unforeseen herald of what’s to come, has been missing for nearly three decades. The wheels of the reader’s mind must be turning with questions. How did this plane resurface? From where did it return? Why on this night in particular…and what did it bring along?
The Approach comes at you slowly, or so you think. Suddenly, it has arrived, and you’re caught off guard entirely. You’re 23 pages deep. You know exactly where this story is going, right? Guess again, as the 24th page assuredly elicits a final, expletive-laden question for the second issue. From the mind behind The Beauty and The Red Mother, it is self-evident that Haun is no stranger to the surreal and macabre, a strength well-played early on in this series. Without giving too much more away, the story, both textually and visually, evokes emotions not felt since John Carpenter’s The Thing or 30 Days of Night. The Approach is a solid recommendation to anyone who enjoys the spectrum of movies, shows, and books often found within the horror and thriller genres.