Jeremy Haun and Danny Luckert’s The Red Mother has a cold opening worthy of a great horror film. A cute couple strolls home after a date. Suddenly, one half of the duo is pulled into black void, while the other is partially blinded in a fantastic display of red spatter across the panel. Our protagonist, Daisy, now must solve a few mysteries. First, what happened to her boyfriend, Luke, after being dragged into that black void? And, second, why is she now experiencing red-soaked visions of a skull-faced demon? Is Daisy actually experiencing supernatural hauntings or is it simply Charles Bonnet Syndrome, in which vision loss leads to visual hallucinations? No matter what the answers to these questions may be, I am certainly excited to follow Daisy on her journey.

The Red Mother is a beautifully illustrated and written comic. Haun is a great storyteller, allowing the plot to progress naturally. This comic is an excellent choice for fans of the horror genre interested in titles such as Clive Barker’s Hellraiser or Marjorie Liu’s Monstress. Readers will certainly empathize with Daisy throughout this comic. Daisy is a strong, intelligent woman dealing with the isolating aftermath of a traumatic experience. Conveniently, Daisy is also a connoisseur of puzzles, her passion being to identify and solve complex problems. With this skill, another layer of intrigue is added to the character of Daisy. Watching our protagonist solve literal puzzles, such as the 19th century wooden Victorian heart puzzle that mysteriously arrives at her door, is actually fun—a feat for any writer. And, like the wooden Victorian heart puzzle, readers will certainly enjoy seeing Daisy work through the puzzle of her boyfriend’s disappearance.

Similarly, the artwork in The Red Mother is thoroughly consistent and competent. Luckert’s strength seems to lie particularly in conveying complex emotions through his depictions of facial expressions, all of which thought and care were clearly put into. For instance, in one particular panel Daisy examines her face after being discharged from the hospital. A black eyepatch covers her now-missing eye. In this one, wordless panel, Luckert conveys pain, confusion, and a reluctance to accept the events that have transpired. My only disappointment related to the artwork in The Red Mother is the depiction of the ever-present demon (or, perhaps, “Red Mother”) in Daisy’s visions. Novices to the horror genre will probably get a kick out of the skull-faced monster. However, seasoned horror fans will most likely find this demon a little… bland. The human-like black torso; the long, sharp fingers; and the white, perpetually grinning face are all pretty run-of-the-mill otherworldly antagonist characteristics. Yet, given that this is only volume one, I remain optimistic that this demonic depiction will pay off.

The Red Mother is a fun, intriguing, fast-paced read for both longtime horror fans and new. Though, as of now, it seems like The Red Mother has not found a strong fanbase, keep this comic in mind for readers’ advisory. The Red Mother may not see constant circulation, but it will be a pleasant surprise for avid consumers of graphic literature. The Red Mother is a worthy contribution to any adult graphic novel collection.

The Red Mother, Vol. 1
By Jeremy Haun
Art by Danny Luckert
ISBN: 9781684155668
BOOM! Studios, 2020
Publisher Age Rating: (18+)

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NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+)
Character Traits: White Straight

  • Olivia

    | She/Her Local History Librarian, South Pasadena Public Library

    Olivia Radbill is the Local History Librarian at the South Pasadena Public Library. In addition to assisting in Adult Services, she is responsible for all archival objects, documentation, and historical inquiry. Previously, she served as the Literacy Services Librarian at the Santa Fe Springs City Library. Originally from Maryland, Olivia has previously aided in archival and genealogical projects at both the National Sporting Library and Museum (NSLM) and the Frederick County Historical Society. In her free time she runs a graphic novel book group for women and indulges in absurd amounts of vegan food.

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