DC has officially launched their horror imprint with the first issue of The Conjuring: The Lover. Part spin-off and part prequel, the five issue story will serve as a prelude to the newest film in the series, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. But that’s not all gracing the pages of this newest launch. Along with tidbits and easter eggs, the series will feature secondary stories, Tales from the Artifact Room, which will exploit the grab bag of Warren collectibles for short frights.
The entire ordeal is edited by Katie Kubert who brought the idea to writer, David L. Johnson-McGoldrick. They put together a series leaning into the style of EC comics, full up with short stories and phony ads.
The prime story, The Conjuring: The Lover, follows Jessica and her struggles at college. Back from winter break, Jessica is begging her mom to let her give up on college and join her best friend, Katie, who took a year off to work. Jessica isn’t fitting in amongst the college kids who want to party and meet guys. She wants to focus on her grades and her best friend and potential love interest, Katie.
“The Lover begins to fill in the heartbreaking story of their beginnings”
Lingering in the background of her library visits is an apparition, a woman who will be familiar to those who’ve caught new newest movie. In the film, the ill-fated ends of Katie and Jessica are moments in the Warren’s exploration of a Satanic ritual, and The Lover begins to fill in the heartbreaking story of their beginnings.
The story is written by The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It and The Conjuring 2 screenwriter, Johnson-McGoldrick, along with Rex Ogle. As a result, the tone is consistent with the film, and it is adapted seamlessly into the medium by Ogle who has worked on comics like Life After Logan and Justice League of America. The art by Garry Brown (Black Road, Crude) and colours by Mike Spicer are gorgeous and blend a great tone of realism with macabre in a way that makes the claw-like hands feel both fantastical and fathomable. Though decidedly its own distinct style, it’s reminiscent of the work of Francesco Francavilla which is always welcome in horror comics. It will make you look over your shoulder swearing you felt a pointy finger tap.
We’ve only got the top of this prime story which will span the five issues, but the introduction will absolutely do enough to grab you by the shoulders and leave you screaming for more. It’s a delicious way to get more out of the films’ stories without necessitating the extra knowledge of spin-offs in order to follow the canon.
Elsewhere in the comic is a short story written by Scott Snyder (Dark Nights: Metal, Wytches). Tales From the Artifact Museum: The Ferryman is a quick spooky story that is plucked right from the pile of trinkets and knickknacks peppered all over the Warren’s legendary space. This one is about the legend of a coin used to pay the Ferryman for the dead, and the curse associated with lifting it. Its tiny size brings a full-size fright and left me grasping my collar with bulging eyes. Art by Denys Cowan (Batman Confidential) and colours by Chris Sotomayor (Black Panther Soul of a Machine) create a stunning finale and are what make the punch line work so effectively. Fans will be tapping their feet waiting for more spinoff tales that will turn the Warren artifact room into a collection of thrilling easter eggs.
“They’re hilarious and make the whole ordeal feel like the comic book answer to Grindhouse“
Along with these two narratives are some fake ads for things like a decoder ring and an opportunity to get possessed by Baphomet. They’re hilarious and make the whole ordeal feel like the comic book answer to Grindhouse.
All this together shows the creative things that can be done to exploit an expanded lore for exciting media. By creating a prelude and a spin-off, fans of the series can enjoy extra tidbits of fun that grow out of beloved scary movies. It continues to show why this Universe is often compared to Marvel and Star Wars expanded universes and is an exciting proposition to get something similar from a horror franchise. Having only seen the first issue, I know I’ll be tapping my claws waiting patiently for more.