Basketful of Heads by Joe Hill

details
Title: Basketful of Heads.
Series
: Hill House Comics #1.
Writer(s): Joe Hill.
Artist(s): Leomacs (Raccardo la Bella for Pencils issue #5).
Colourist(S): Dave Stewart.
Letterer(s): Deron Bennett.
PublisherDC Comics.

Format
: Hardcover.
Release Date: September 8th, 2020.
Pages: 184.
Genre(s): Comics, Horror.
ISBN13: 9781779502971.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Also in the Hill House Comics series:
The Dollhouse Family by Mike Carey.
The Low, Low Woods by Carmen Maria Machado.
Daphne Byrne by Laura Marks.
Plunge by Joe Hill.

thoughts

The horror genre has a way to sneak up on a person and tug on their heartstrings as the tension rises and their worst fears grow relentlessly. Whatever medium is used, there is always a way to reach the target audience and trigger their imagination. Even in comic books. Crawling his way to DC Comics, critically-acclaimed writer Joe Hill (Heart-Shaped Box, NOS4A2, Horns, Locke & Key) creates and curates his own cutting-edge horror comics line under the DC Black Label imprint, calling itself the Hill House Comics. With five original limited series written by some of the biggest names in horror story-telling, the first graphic novel, collecting all 7-issues of this series, introduces writer Joe Hill and artist Leomacs to fans with a story filled with mystery, gore, and heads.

What is Basketful of Heads about? The story follows the young and eccentric June Branch as she returns to Body Island to visit her boyfriend, Liam, for a hot and calm summer weekend. Unfortunately for them, their adventure quickly shifts from romantic to terrifying when a group of escaped criminals breaks into their house. While Liam runs to arm himself, June flees only to later safely equip herself with a strange 8th-century Viking axe that has more to it than just an age-old legend attached to it. As she’s off to find Liam and unravel the truth before she loses her loved one, she quickly discovers the magical and supernatural powers of her axe and descends into madness as she tries to survive through lies, manipulation, and terror.

“Once that you’ve decided on a killin’… If you find that your hands are still willing… Murder into an art!”

Joe Hill

This worked wonderfully for what it was. The story’s structure is quite simple and inevitably brings into play some predictable twists but the narrative never fizzles out thanks to some of the most brutal and gory sequences ever. The subtle dark humour infused into the dialogue at strategic story-telling moments, especially when it is time for revelations, also adds a little fun madness into the insane horror plot. The protagonist’s innocence also helps give readers the chance to identify themselves in her behaviour, as she struggles to survive. After all, she does whatever it takes to get the truth behind what’s going on while fearing for her life. The core mystery isn’t mind-boggling but sufficiently developed to push June towards an end goal that coincidentally also sends her down a dark path towards darkness and madness.

Artist Leomacs achieves an incredible result with this horror story as he brilliantly conveys the setting, the tension, the horror, and the gore. The larger panels explicitly capturing the most tragic moments are fantastic, beautifully conveying the pain and the terror of the involved characters. At times, when the action scenes haven’t arrived yet, writer Joe Hill’s verbose dialogue is noticeable but remains, more often than not, a welcome break in tension to properly elaborate on the mystery and the various characters in this world. This also allows Leomacs to focus his attention on facial expressions, perfectly illustrating the emotional atmosphere of the story. Add in Dave Stewart’s colouring that gives this graphic novel a diluted yet dark tone, and voilà, you got yourself an excellent all-around horror story that successfully introduces the Hill House Comics line-up to the world.

Basketful of Heads is a tense and exciting horror story featuring one lady with her supernatural axe and a basket ready to welcome heads.


EXHIBITA
Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!

Expect my reviews for the rest of the series soon! 😉

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26 thoughts on “Basketful of Heads by Joe Hill

  1. Really glad to hear you enjoyed this one. I sent it and one of the others to a friend as a Christmas gift. I’m hoping he enjoys them at least as much as you have. This also reminds me I want to try Heart-Shaped Box one of these days, and perhaps NOS4A2.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No, I had it shipped directly to him, so I didn’t get a chance to see them. I was of the same mind, I only picked Hill’s work. Granted, I wasn’t a big fan of Horns, either the book or the movie, but I did enjoy Locke & Key and I think he enjoyed that one also. I think Plunge was the other one I sent.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. “Verbose” is a word that always springs to mind when I think of Hill and, especially, his father 😉. I enjoyed reading Hill’s “20th Century Ghosts”, “Heart-Shaped Box”, but I DNF’d “NOS4A2”. I’m not a fan of over-writing in comic books, but you’ve made this sound very tempting. I enjoyed Hill’s comic series “Plunge” but I haven’t read this title. Nice review, Lashaan.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Completely forgot about Locke & Key. I’ve only read the first volume of that one. It didn’t blow me away. With NOS4A2, I got halfway through it and lost interest. I was going to pick it up again but never did.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I know I’ve talked about this before, but Hill lost any chance of connecting with me because of the movie Horns. I didn’t like Radcliffe in it, I didn’t like the story line and I didn’t like just about everything to do with it, hahahaa. So Hill’s name is now inextricably linked to that level of dislike. I’m not even sure it is overcome-able….

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Cool review, as always – seems that you had a bit of fun with this one, Lashaan!
    I’m not a great fan of horrors, especially verbose horrors 😜 but I’m glad you enjoyed it so much! Have fun with the rest of the series! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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