The Hidden, by Richard Sala, takes place in a world where one man’s folly has been replicated until it threatens the very world of humans. As a dystopian, end-of-the-world novel, it does a good job of showcasing desolation and general weird/macabre moments. The main character is, for a large part of the story, an amnesiac who is found by a couple who has managed to escape the fate of most of the world. From there things move forward quickly and the reader is exposed to a amalgam of a plot and over-the-top cartoonish gore and violence until the end.
Primarily, the strength of this title lies in the expressive art and colors of Richard Sala. His art has verve and life to it that is showcased by the human characters and corpse people of this story. The strengths of this story match Sala’s art better than his previous foray — Cat Burglar Black. From the first page, with its ghostly apparition (AKA Foreshadowing), it really is fun to see what he will come up with next.
As a story, The Hidden has its plot holes and hanging threads, but it manages to roll over and through those without letting the reader get bogged down or trapped in them. This is because things just keep happening, usually crazy things. Things that a person might feel if they were responsible for the end of the world. In this case, it seems like the amnesiac main character is ultimately responsible for the calamity that has occurred. In fact, the plot is heavily indebted to Gothic horror and, in some ways, seems to spring from the plot of Frankenstein.
All of this is secondary to Sala’s art. It is the attraction and the main reason anyone should pick up this title. His storytelling is clear and concise and inventive and just plain fun. His art makes the story a joy (and quick) to read. One scene early in the book is particularly striking, where one of the survivors of the apocalypse recounts how this group of old rich white men imply they are responsible for everything that has happened, and then proceeds to start eating people!
Overall, this comic is a colorful and horrific romp through a post apocalyptic wasteland. It has monsters, ghouls, ghastly masks, monologues, allusions and a twist ending. What more could a library or a reader want? To take some liberties with the famous S.R. Ranganathan quote, this book will definitely have its reader, and a reader will definitely have this book.
by Richard Sala