People love amusement parks, or at least enough people love them to make them a multimillion dollar business. What’s not to love? The gravity-defying rides! The thrilling attractions! The greasy food that will quickly leave your body thanks to the earlier mentioned gravity-defying rides! Horror fans, whether they hate or love amusement parks, should find something thrilling in Dark Ride, Vol. 1 by Joshua Williamson, along with art by Andrei Bressan and Adriano Lucas.
For fans of horror and amusement parks, Devil Land is the one-stop vacation spot. Picture an amusement park designed by Tim Burton but located in Freddy Krueger’s dreamland. This land that somehow combines a Tunnel of Love with buckets of blood is the brainchild of elusive genius Arthur Dante. Many feel Arthur is close to finally passing the keys to this malicious, magic kingdom to one of his children. Will it be divorced dad Samhein (or Sammy), desperate to prove to his father that he deserves to be in charge? Or party girl influencer Halloween (Hallie), able to be seen practically anytime she wants? When a worker disappears within the park, people start investigating and the park shows that it doesn’t have to amuse anyone.
This is volume one of the series, so writer Williamson (author of horror comics Ghosted and Nailbiter) spends most of this book setting up plot threads and introducing characters. From the sister investigating her brother’s disappearance to the Dante children themselves, particularly Samhain, Williamson shows a lot of surprising depth in the more down-to-earth sibling, showing him at least trying to be a good dad to his daughter but ultimately being distracted by the needs of the park. Setting up the more grounded characters is important if readers are going to explore a place like Devil Land alone.
Williamson may have had the contents of Devil Land in his head, but Bressan and Lucas’s art make them seem real. From the rides that look very close to medieval torture devices to mascots that look like they crawled off the shelf of an abandoned Hot Topic, Devil Land as a living, breathing, money-making amusement park is fully realized. Devil Land actually looks like a place gorehounds and amusement park enthusiasts will want to visit. They might even buy season passes.
Dark Ride as a series looks promising, especially for those librarians whose patrons love horror, particularly the kind of horror that’s more schlock than terrifying. However, it could be ready to deliver a different kind of horror once readers are fully strapped in and the ride really begins.
Dark Ride, Vol. 1
By Joshua Williamson
Art by Andrew Bressen, Adriano Lucas
Publisher Age Rating: 16+
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)