I could go on at great lengths about how I’ve found Boom’s library of titles to be consistently impressive. Their Hellraiser titles have singlehandedly elevated Barker’s mythology, bringing it back from the slump brought on by several bad direct-to-video installments that barely hinted at the greatness of the first film. The Returning, an original storyline depicting a bizarre rash of NDE experiences culminating in violence and social upheaving is a great read as well. The Woods is no exception, and admittedly I’m already hooked. Borrowing from both King’s The Mist and Golding’s Lord of the Flies, The Woods centers on an average, ordinary high school that, in the blink of an eye, literally gets transported to another world, one with dangers in the form of razor sharp teeth with a nasty hunger. In this case though its not about something borrowed, its about something new and refreshingly that is great characters
I frequently have trouble with the way horror and sci-fi characterize youthful personalities. Of the two, horror is probably the larger culprit here, placing anyone between the ages of 12-19 firmly in ridiculous, stereotypical, cliché movie-archetypes that do nothing but reinforce the idea that America’s youth is a bunch of horny, vapid, annoying troglodytes. We know the antagonistic jock, the insipid, yet somehow misunderstood cheerleader, the terrorized brainiac and the social miscreant-come-soulful-rebel. These characters, once perfectly functional in any John Hughes film, seem to feel a little cookie cutter in today’s melting pot society, and because of that, I think audiences are disconnecting from those worn and dated portrayals. That is where The Woods, which could have relied on very easy and already established stereotypes, succeeds by creating characters that have depth, yet feel familiar. This almost instant familiarity, coupled with just the right amount of exposition to fill the mystery of the book with purpose allows the narrative to grow its legs quickly and The Woods wastes absolutely no time getting to the crux of the story.
After we are introduced to several of the book’s main characters, an inexplicable flash of bright light sends several students, including the principal outside to discover that not only is it now night-time, but by the gigantic gas planet seen in the distance, it might not even be earth-time anymore. Things get quickly worse as our young scholars soon discover that just about everything surrounding the school seems to have an insatiable hunger for flesh, causing immediate panic and dissent amongst the faculty/student ranks. While several students try to leverage their popularity or position in the student body government, others suddenly find themselves, realizing potential they never knew they possessed. It is the self-actualization that really creates a heart to this story and keeps it pumping through the first issue. We like the characters that writer James Tynion has given life to and we want to follow them through their journey, not just through the woods, but possibly through much darker terrain, that of their own individual self discovery.