The Seasons Have Teeth is another entry in a sub-genre of horror fiction that casts nature as a force full of contradictions: beautiful and terrifying, nurturing and dangerous, full of birth and decay. It’s a movement that likely has a name, though it currently escapes me. All you need to do is look at something like the The Last of Us video game series or the 2018 film Annihilation to get an idea of what these types of stories are like. They are gorgeous and grotesque, and tend to use a funhouse mirror version of the natural world to draw parallels to the human condition.
In the case of The Seasons Have Teeth, each of the four Seasons are personified by monsters. The comic presents a world where people must evacuate in order to escape these kaiju, as they would a natural disaster. This first issue follows aging combat photographer Andrew as he ignores the mandatory order to leave his home so that he can document the arrival of Spring. Writer Dan Watters (of Home Sick Pilots) neatly presents Andrew’s inner monologue in the form of a one-sided conversation with his late wife, Cindy.
In the eerie buildup to the monster’s arrival, the gradual changing of the environment causes Andrew to reflect on the recklessness of youth, how his time with Cindy shaped his life, and certain unchanging constants in a world that never stops rearranging itself. Through Andrew’s eyes, we see another contradiction in the monstrous Spring: it’s not just an avatar of change, but also one of nostalgia.
The Seasons Have Teeth isn’t just a beautifully told story; it looks stunning as well. Penciller Sebastián Cabrol brings a more subtle sort of horror than I was expecting from this title. This issue doesn’t have any over-the-top gore or sudden, shocking scares. It has a quality more akin to the haunting whimsy found in a Guillermo Del Toro film, with gnarled vines overtaking a mundane town. Cabrol does a good job conveying how ominous the approach of Spring is with some big silent panels in the first half of the issue. They have a calculated emptiness to them that really gives you an idea of Andrew’s isolation.
Oh course, I can’t talk about the look of The Seasons Have Teeth without discussing Dan Jackson’s colors, which do a lot to herald the arrival of Spring. The comic opens on a world that’s not quite black and white, but the colors are so muted that it might as well be. But as the vegetation starts to creep in, so do vibrant greens and purples that feel completely otherworldly. The monster itself has the most clearly defined colors, and you get a sense of the life that it brings to everything around it by the way it saturates the hues of whatever’s closest to it. I’ve seen comics use the contrast between colorfulness and dullness before, but never quite on the scale of what Jackson is doing here.
The Seasons Have Teeth is off to a great start. It might not provide the type of horror you expect going into it, but it will surprise you with something that’s a lot quieter and more personal. It sticks with you in ways that are more intimate than the usual monster mash fare could ever achieve.